In today’s connected, global business environment, bribery and corruption are evolving risks that organizations should keep permanently on their radar. Companies without clear anti-corruption policies and training can face costly legal, financial and/or reputational damage. In 2019, companies paid $2.9 billion to resolve Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) cases brought by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and the Department of Justice.
Implementing online anti-bribery/anti-corruption training to employees, third parties, partners and suppliers, in the language of their choice, is an important step in promoting business ethics and compliance that helps protect your organization from bribery, corruption and other unethical behavior. Among the questions training should address are:
What is the FCPA?
The FCPA is the principal federal law that makes it a crime to pay a bribe to a foreign public official for the purpose of obtaining or retaining business. Jointly enforced by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the FCPA applies to any company that does business internationally or whose securities are listed in the U.S. Besides covering anti-bribery, the FCPA also has an accounting provision, which includes books, records, and internal controls.
What is bribery?
Bribery has evolved into a sophisticated crime — it’s much more than offering someone an envelope stuffed with cash. Generally, depending on the country or statute, bribery means offering, giving or promising anything of value to a government official with the intent to influence that official or gain an unfair advantage, usually to acquire or maintain business. Bribes can be cash and gifts, such as electronics, cars, watches or expensive wine, as well as travel and accommodations, donations to a charity or a political party, trade secrets, stock tips, hospitality and entertainment, and offers of employment.
Who is considered a foreign public official?
It’s not always easy to identify a public official— it’s a broad category. Some examples are heads of state, cabinet members, judges and magistrates, legislators, regulators, law enforcement, government workers and individuals working on behalf of public international organizations, such as the UN, Red Cross or the World Bank. A good rule is to treat all business contacts as ‘public officials’ and assume that anti-bribery laws apply to your interactions with them.
What should I do?
Training is an effective way to communicate and explain your organization’s internal policies and procedures for reporting incidents of bribery, corruption and other misconduct. Training should also reinforce a ‘tone from the top’ that ethical behavior and practices are core to your culture and that everyone, at every level and location, is accountable for their words and actions.
Bribery and corruption in the workplace are serious crimes, whose costs go far beyond criminal penalties and large fines. Organizations can minimize the risk of FCPA violations by communicating clear policies and procedures, and providing regular training to employees and third parties on their responsibility to recognize and report bribery and corruption and act ethically.
Andrew Rawson is the Chief Learning Officer and Co-founder at Traliant. He has more than 25 years of experience in strategy, operations, and marketing. Prior to founding Traliant, Andrew served as the Global Head of Compliance Learning (eLearning) at Thomson Reuters, an information, technology, and services company with more than 60,000 employees. He has held senior management positions in the manufacturing, commercial construction, and software industries.
In addition to being a seasoned professional with a background of diverse organizational experiences, Andrew is a classic lifelong learner. His love of learning inspires him to deliver the most engaging and effective courses possible to the learners that Traliant serves.