Energy companies are subject to increasing oversight from a broad array of regulators. Part of the challenge of managing the legal and reputational risk that can arise from such oversight is ensuring that the company has built a culture of compliance. The other part of the challenge for corporate counsel is knowing what constitutes an appropriate culture of compliance. There is no single answer to this question because companies are different. The following questions are intended to help corporate counsel assess what may or may not be missing at their own companies and to anticipate the kinds of questions regulators are asking on a more frequent basis.
1. Do You Really Have a Compliance Program?
This might seem like an odd question, but not all companies can answer “yes.” Taking into account that the details of a compliance program will vary based on company size, location, lines of business and other factors, an energy company compliance program should include:
- The conscious adoption of a formal program shaped around a company’s business that is intended to promote business activities that comport with the law.
- A statement from senior management that the company expects all employees to comply with the laws applicable to their business activities.
- The identification of compliance resources available to oversee and assist employees, including an independent senior compliance officer and legal resources.
- Policies and procedures that address the areas of law most applicable to the company and provide guidance on how to find additional help.
- Implementation of the compliance program in a way that ensures that all employees are aware of it.
Every company should undertake an honest assessment of whether its compliance program contains each of these elements. That will be the first step in ensuring that the company has developed and implemented a robust compliance program and thus can demonstrate that it has built a firm culture of compliance.
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