How do you go about determining the content and speaker panels for your anti-corruption conferences?
C5 has been organising anti-corruption conferences for over 20 years, and although every conference is different, our approach of working closely with business leaders to determine the content most relevant and useful to potential participants at any given time, remains unchanged. All of our anti-corruption conferences start with approximately 100 hours of interviews with Chief Compliance Officers, General Counsel and their advisors (including companies currently under investigation).
It is this in-depth primary research that dictates the positioning of the conference programme and the specific topics to be covered. We are also able to identify those whose experiences will be most valued by delegates. We take into consideration developments that could have an impact on doing business in a global context and pull together a speaking faculty of professionals who investigate cases and those who are either under investigation, or have been under investigation,with the aim of providing companies who are not under investigation an opportunity to learn from the experiences of others. Initially, companies were most concerned by the impact that the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) was having on doing business as this was the first piece of aggressively enforced legislation to include the element of extraterritoriality. Accordingly our conference speakers were primarily US companies and law firms, as they were the experts on the implementation and impact of this law. The subsequent entry into force of the UK Bribery Act (UKBA) and other European legislation enacted with extraterritorial reach has increased the requirement of companies working in the UK and Europe, even in cases where the link is slight. Consequently, conference content expanded to include the ramifications of doing business with the UK and Europe, as well as with the US.
How has your approach to planning the content changed over recent years?
C5 continues to base conference content on business realities. The latest anti-corruption programmes include global anti-corruption compliance and risk management strategies, and a diverse line up of corporate speakers from various countries and industries. At the same time wWe have seen a rise in concern around local enforcers, with companies concerned about both the extraterritorial reach of the FCPA and UKBA, and what their own governments are doing to tackle corrupt behaviour. As investigations become more complex, and obviously global, our delegates are keen for us to involve more crime and special investigatory agencies such as the City of London Police. In recent years more and more countries have toughened their anti-corruption laws or, at the very least, started to enforce existing legislation more systematically. Consequently, companies are at risk of prosecution for corruption related activities in these nations. Increased enforcement of anti-bribery legislation as well as new legislation has resulted in a real growth of interest in anti-corruption events offering sector wide strategies. With more local regulations and speakers included these programmes tackle “on the ground issues” and address the issue of balance between local and global regulations. Increased local enforcement has also led to the development of our ’In-Country’ event series, which is complementary to our existing International Conferences. The ‘In Country’ one-day conferences focus on solutions and best practices to meet the challenges companies operating in a specific country face. Our current research continues to show it is very important to insist upon the idea of ‘tone at the top’. A robust compliance programme is worthless if it does not enjoy buy-in at the highest levels of the company. Companies need access to information that will assist them in adapting local imperatives to global business practices; creating and managing a template that is successful in implementing a single culture of compliance throughout a multi-site, multi-lingual, multi-national company, is extremely challenging and company specific.
Can you comment on geographic areas where new legislation has come into force?
The trends aren’t difficult to spot; there is a huge amount of published information on this from law firm newsletters to the fraud section of the DoJ website. The investigation into the British pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline by the Chinese Ministry of Public Security, is currently positioning China as the latest player in the global anti-bribery enforcement. In addition, as mentioned above, there seems to be a trend for countries that previously didn’t enforce their anti-bribery laws to amend their current ACB legislation to define a clear regimen of corporate liability. The OECD is also pushing countries hard to implement and enforce AC regulations. France, for example, is under pressure right now from the OECD. ACI and C5 have the globe well covered with anti-corruption conferences in over 20 countries. Over the last 3 years we have expanded into Africa and more recently Australia, and each new location mirrors the market. In Africa we are seeing multinational companies expand their on-the-ground compliance programmes, investing in compliance teams across the continent. Our African conferences also appeal to the emerging local companies who are now working globally and who are far more concerned about meeting global business best practices and anti-corruption standards. Increased enforcement in Italy and Spain has meant that companies working out of these countries are increasingly conscious of respecting national anti-corruption laws. The recent conference in Italy and the upcoming conference in Spain were a direct result of the increased enforcement of their own national anti-corruption laws, which had previously not been enforced to the same extent. Although there are no enforcement cases in Ukraine, the recent conference focused on the latest political will to introduce a corporate criminal liability regime.
Will there be any changes to C5‘s strategy in the future?
Any publisher or conference business leader will happily talk at length about the changing habits around how professionals absorb information with more and varied feeds and sources of information via social media and web platforms. Although we are currently investing heavily in our digital offer, our primary focus remains creating great live events where business people can learn and network with others. The Women in Compliance Awards is an example of a new way C5 is working with the industry to bring together senior figures for knowledge sharing, networking and in the specific case of the awards, celebration and recognition. With respect to the topics covered by C5 conferences our strategy is always in line with the practical issues of conducting business in a global context. Our anti-corruption conferences remain highly topical, serving a growing and increasing empowered sector working in a challenging, rapidly evolving, regulatory space. The real positive we are seeing from a compliance perspective is the shift in compliance moving from a cost centre to a business enabler. Professionals working in compliance know that ethical business practices do not in any way need to impinge upon a company’s success.
Tim Willoughby, Managing Director
C5 Communications Ltd.
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