By John Verver, ACL
The actions taken recently against Anheuser-Busch InBev and Och-Ziff for international bribery and other forms of corruption is a very intriguing dichotomy of results and point to an important enforcement trend, according to anti-corruption experts at ACL, a fraud consultation and software company focused on global fraud detection, anti-bribery and corruption, and regulatory compliance.
In bringing companies to task for bribery and corruption, the U.S. government has levied fines of $6 million, $400 million, and in one case, fined a CEO personally for $1 million.
John Verver, an audit, risk management, and compliance expert serving as a strategic adviser to ACL, says the government will continue to punish companies that act against whistleblowers who turn them in.
“While both incidents demonstrate the federal government’s heightened engagement and willingness to enforce regulations like the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, its decision to punish largely seems dependent on whether or not the company had proper controls in place to mitigate bribery and corruption and whether or not the company paid attention to whistleblowers,” Verver told GRC & Fraud Software Journal.
“Bribery has been a fact of business life for many large, global corporations – particularly in certain regions of the world where it has been commonplace for years.
“The federal actions demonstrate the veracity with which the U.S. Government pursues non-compliance in this area. It also is making a statement that to ignore or suppress whistleblowers will result in swift and deep-cutting consequences.
“Whistleblower hot lines have been shown to be very effective as a method of helping to counter B&C – particularly if implemented in conjunction with automated ABC monitoring – the existence of which is communicated broadly within the company.
“To the degree that a company can report its effectiveness in these areas will significantly impact the results of investigations where compliance failures have been found to occur.”