What do others do? Where do I stand as compared to other companies in my sector? Can you provide me with benchmark data? Those were recurrent questions that I was asked as a Paris-based FCPA lawyer and academic.
Whistleblowers are key tools to uncovering unlawful activities and preventing corporate misconduct. However, according to the 2017 Eurobarometer on Corruption, 81% of individuals experiencing or witnessing corruption indicated that they have not reported it. Moreover, only 47% of the respondents knew where to report a case.
The French National Prosecutor’s office recently concluded a deferred prosecution agreement with the Société Générale bank to settle suspicions it had paid bribes to foreign public officials. Société Générale was issued fines of 250,150,755 euros. For the first time since the entry into force of the Sapin II law, this resolution was coordinated with the US Department of Justice which also concluded a deferred prosecution agreement with the French bank based on the same facts.
At its core, anti-corruption is about your company’s values. What is the value that drives your company: that you have superior products and/or services that would improve your customers’ lives, or you need to cheat one deal at a time? Are you looking to a long-term future for both your company and the communities where it does business, or do you just want to make sure you get through today? I believe companies that have clear sense of their mission and long-term vision would be more competitive than those that focus on short-term deals and quick growth, because the long-term mission focus compels strategies and investments consistent with sustainable business growth.
The imminent general data protection regulation (GDPR) will be one of the most influential frameworks in the data privacy sector. Throughout Europe, data privacy will soon be harmonized by law. The regulation was adopted in April 2016 and its enforcement will be mandatory from May 2018 for companies processing personal data.
Compliance officers will be obliged to follow very specific procedures when handling personal data particularly as it pertains to issues of whistleblowing.
Modern working conditions rely heavily on digitally displayed workflows which produce huge amounts of data, forcing compliance officers, following the regulation, to handle and control European citizens’ personal data to prevent abuses.
France’s Supreme Court recently determined that double jeopardy isn’t a viable defense to prevent the prosecution of a company that had entered into a plea agreement for charges tried in another country
The decision by the Cour de Cassation, rendered on March 14, involved Swiss oil trader Vitol, which allegedly bribed the government of Iraq to obtain oil under the United Nations' Oil-for-Food program that ran from 1996 to 2003. Under that program, Iraq could sell oil on the open market to purchase humanitarian supplies for its citizens.
At WhistleB, we applaud a more positive view of the value of whistleblower tips. The UK-based Financial Times1 and Sweden’s Dagens Nyheter2 have published pieces in the last month related to high-profile whistleblowing matters and their articles highlight that whistleblowers need the strictest protection. We could not agree more. Organisations should offer a safe environment for reporting misconduct and protecting the anonymity of people who dare to report.
Whistleblowing has been recognized as playing a crucial role in the fight against corruption, fraud, mismanagement, and various other crimes. The Council of Europe underlined that whistleblowing can act as an “early warning to prevent damage as well as to detect wrongdoing that may otherwise remain hidden”.
Some countries, including Italy, have already implemented laws to protect whistleblowers, however whistleblowing is far from being used as a real instrument to detect crimes. The OECD Foreign Bribery Report (2014) describes how very low the percentage is – only close to 2 % of the concluded foreign bribery cases were detected through whistleblowing.
ISO 37001 is an international standard which specifies the procedures which an organization should implement to assist it prevent bribery, and identify and deal with any bribery which occurs. It requires organizations to implement these procedures on a reasonable and proportionate basis according to the type and size of the organization, and the nature and extent of bribery risks faced. It is applicable to small, medium and large organizations in the public and private sector, and can be used in any country. It cannot provide absolute assurance that no bribery will occur, but it can help establish that the organization has implemented reasonable and proportionate anti-bribery procedures.
Yes. This agreement is the first Convention Judiciaire d’Intérêt Public (“CJIP”) – which stands for Judicial Agreement in the Public Interest – concluded by the French National Financial Prosecutor (“NFP”) since the adoption, in December 2016, of the “Law regarding transparency, the fight against corruption and the modernization of economic life”, better known as the “Loi Sapin II”. The CJIP and the Paris Court’s decision became binding and public on November 24, 2017 after a 10 day opt-out period left to the Bank.
A lot has been written and said during the past year about protecting whistleblowers. International legal instruments require countries to protect people prepared to report wrongdoing within their organizations; however, we have yet to see any significant increase in either the number of whistleblowers coming forward or in the quality of their reports.
In 2015, new anti-corruption legislation came into force which required all public agencies in Ukraine to develop risk-based anti-corruption programs. To support this work, the National Agency on Corruption Prevention, which is responsible for the training and implementation of the state’s anti-corruption policy, approved a methodology for carrying out corruption risk assessments as well as recommendations for the development of these programmes. At the end of 2017, using this methodology, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) established a corruption risk assessment committee, which identifies spheres with the biggest risks. Dr. Soloviov was a member of the committee and lists the highest risk areas in defense processes.
After an almost decade-long campaign by anti-corruption groups demanding that France act against corrupt foreign leaders suspected of stashing their “ill-gotten gains” in Europe, the trial of Teodorin Obiang Nguema, son of Equatorial Guinea’s President, Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, got underway in Paris in 2017 and resulted in his conviction in October. Equatorial Guinea is a resource-rich country that also has some of the most widespread poverty in the world.
A National Anti-Corruption System was created on July 18, 2016 based on constitutional amendments passed by Congress in 2015.
The secondary legislation which followed these amendments included four new laws and amendments to three existing laws which were passed by Congress in 2016, notably the General Law of Administrative Responsibilities and the Law of the National Anti-Corruption System (among others).
The Post Group, a private company since 2010, employs 250 000 people 20% of whom work outside France across five continents. The Post has four principle activities: mail, package and express delivery, banking and digital services. In 2016, annual turnover reached 23.3 billion euros.
In April 2011, The Post Group implemented a system of ethical business procedures based on a code of conduct, the administration of an oath by all staff, a secure email-based whistleblowing system, an Ethics Committee, and awareness raising activities (training, communications).
Organisational whistleblowing, allowing employees and often suppliers, and in some cases even the general public to speak up, when they see something that they think is not right, is a global mega trend. It allows organisations to prevent wrongdoings from occurring in the first place, by having a way to anonymously or not report on a suspected wrongdoing. It also demonstrates an organisation´s dedication to high ethical standards and is increasingly a tool that organisations have to have in place to comply with the law, for example the French anti-corruption law, Sapin 2, to take a current example.
Latin American (“Latam”) countries are generally perceived to have a high level of corruption and tolerance for this practice, as if it were part of local business environments. The average score for Latin American countries in the 2016 Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index was 44 out of 100; scores below 50 indicate governments are failing to tackle corruption.
Wendy lived through an eleven-year battle against corporate corruption in a case known as South Africa’s Enron, the biggest corporate disaster in South Africa’s history. Since securing justice she has maximised her experience through the study of social psychology and the neuroscience of decision-making at Stanford University in addition to being accredited to train for Social FitnessTM, a course developed over 25 years at Stanford by Professor Emeritus Philip Zimbardo and Dr Lynne Henderson, Ph.D.
Organisations have been externalising their whistleblowing arrangements through third party providers for many years now.
Some have done so, so as to conform with legislative requirements.
Some have done so because their peers have done so.
Some have done so because they required to tick a box in their compliance handbook and in an attempt to present an outward appearance of ethical transparency and excellence.
The ISO 37001 is a new anti-bribery standard that could significantly help businesses thrive in a challenging global environment. It won’t open any pod bay doors, but it brings to organizations a much-needed level of anti-bribery guidance, combined with meaningful incentives for standard adoption. And it’s applicable to all institutions, regardless of size, structure, geography, or jurisdiction.