Where to Hold the Line

Realistically, something’s gotta give. Whether you’re a compliance officer at one of the companies thriving in these unprecedented times (hello Zoom and Amazon), one in a company full of furloughs and layoffs (hello airline and hotel groups), or one in a company somewhere in between, the tension is palpable. Generally speaking, right now business leaders aren’t overly concerned about compliance initiatives or compliance concerns. The focus isn’t on compliance – it’s on survival.

But compliance can’t be complacent. As David Fuhr, Assistant Chief of the US Justice Department’s FCPA unit said on April 23, 2020, “Prosecutors are trying to be reasonable given the conditions companies face as a result of the pandemic, but compliance has to continue.”

In this time of challenge and change, we must be willing to bend but not break. Where can we bend to be team players responding to the crisis? And conversely, where do we hold the line in the various areas of risk? As always, your risk assessment is the place to start, because every business is different. However, there are some general places where the rope can be relaxed, and others where you shouldn’t give an inch.

Bribery and Corruption

Bribery risk escalates exponentially in times of crisis. The seeds of prosecutions in 2022 – 2025 are being planted now. However, not all bribery risk is the same. This is a time when gifts giving and hospitality provision have likely fallen off a cliff at your business. Training on the Gifts and Hospitality policy isn’t as useful now as it could be later in the year. Likewise, with most budgets constricting, your company may not be giving charitable donations. Hold the line on:…