Global Anti-Bribery Compliance: A Firm’s Structure

In terms of global anti-bribery compliance, attorneys, international lawyers, accountants, consultants, and others providing advice concerning the UK Bribery Act, the FCPA, the CFPOA, and other anti-bribery regimes, like those of the World Bank, need to take into consideration the guidance issued by the UK’s Financial Services Authority (FSA) relative to a firm’s structure. Aside from the applicability of the guidance to firms subject to the jurisdiction of the FSA, it provides useful insights relative to global anti-bribery compliance programs and related internal controls.

Although the organisational structure of firms may differ in how they address financial crime, the “structure should promote coordination and information sharing across the business.”[1]  Risks are to be “addressed in a coordinated manner across the business and information is shared readily.”[2]  A firm should endeavor “to understand or addressgaps in its financial crime defenses.”[3]

A firm’s structure should also promote accountability and define ultimate responsibility.  Those assigned responsibility need to have appropriate seniority and experience as well as “clear reporting lines.”[4]  Compliance officials should not be “relatively junior or lack access to senior management,” or be “often overruled without documented justification.”[5]

In addition, adequate resources need to be provided by a firm and should be proportionate to the risk. In smaller firms, it may be reasonable for staff to have more than one role. Yet staff should not be spread too thin. Where senior management is reluctant to provide adequate resources for compliance, a basis may exist for challenging the effectiveness of a firm’s compliance structure.

[1] Financial Services Authority, Financial crime: a guide for firms, pt. 1, Box 2.2.

[2] Id. (emphasis in original).

[3] Id. (emphasis in original).

[4] Id.

[5] Id. (emphasis in original).

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