Gorilas que vigilan en la niebla

Gorilas que vigilan en la niebla

Gorilas que vigilan en la niebla por Robertson Park Los juristas y los especialistas en normativa internacional anti corrupción andan metidos en un juego peligroso, obcecados como están con las últimas estadísticas sobre procesos judiciales, resoluciones y medidas de ejecución relativos a la FCPA (la ley estadounidense sobre prácticas de corrupción en el extranjero). Muchos despachos dedican una cantidad considerable de recursos de marketing a evaluar regularmente datos sobre el ahínco con el que el Departamento de Justicia estadounidense persigue a empresas internacionales por incumplimiento de la FCPA y otras normas. Incluso podemos entrar en Twitter para comprobar si DOJ (siglas inglesas de Departamento de Justicia) y FCPA son trending topic. A nuestro juicio, este enfoque es erróneo desde una óptica empresarial y no tiene en consideración el conjunto de los riesgos existentes.   No cabe duda de que, en ciertas circunstancias, el Departamento de Justicia seguirá comportándose como el gorila macho dominante de la selva de la lucha contra la corrupción. Sin embargo, la actividad de las autoridades estadounidenses durante los últimos seis meses no puede ser la única vara de medir para vaticinar las medidas que se adoptarán en el futuro en este ámbito. Ahora, debemos tratar el dolor de cabeza del posible interés del Departamento de Justicia por perseguir presuntas transgresiones de las empresas como una migraña en toda regla que se manifiesta en la multitud de jurisdicciones y organismos que pueden tener, tienen y seguirán teniendo un gran interés en las denuncias de infracciones cometidas por grandes empresas.   El número de Estados miembros de la OCDE aumenta y cada vez son más los países...
Ethical Race to the Bottom?

Ethical Race to the Bottom?

Two worrying “non answers” to questions posed to business leaders have marked me during the past fortnight. The first was posed to the General Counsel of a major sports manufacturer during a panel discussion entitled ‘Ethics drives Performance’. Fascinating topic, though why a GC would be well placed to speak to it is perhaps more of a mystery. And so it proved. The question went to the apparent contradiction between on the one hand the company’s professed adherence to ethics, compliance and business integrity and on the other hand their high profile sponsorship of a well known sporting body which has recently been the subject of serious corruption allegations. “Gentlemen”, I asked (for no ladies featured on this particular panel), “with all due respect, I find myself wondering whether the title here is ‘Ethics drives Performance’ or ‘Lack of Ethics drives Performance’. Are we not in danger of preaching to the choir here, with an audience of ethics and compliance professionals? If we were among CEOs and business people, would the conclusion not be that ‘Sales trumps Ethics every day of the week’?”. No satisfactory answer was forthcoming, though your correspondent did hear a claim that, as these are the bodies running world sport, one has no choice but to do business with them…! One cannot help but wonder what the business impact would be if the major corporations which choose to invest their profits in high profile sponsorships of international sports were to take a strong – and principled – stand on ethics and compliance issues on the part of their well-funded recipients. What might the impact on...
Ethics in Airports – Last Call?

Ethics in Airports – Last Call?

Passing through a major international airport last week, I went to the information stand to enquire where the lounge was located. The kind lady on duty explained that the lounge was not in that terminal. She asked how long I had until my flight. “Two hours”, I told her, and she helpfully suggested that I go for a meal in the well-known restaurant just above us. I look up and see said eponymous restaurant, whose owner is a well known chef and entrepreneur. Quick ethical decision made, I politely tell the helpful lady that I did not wish to go there, because of the bad reputation and lack of ethics of the owner. Stance taken for personal, corporate and culinary integrity, notwithstanding the attraction of the delicious, if overpriced, food on offer up above. She looked a little surprised, but appeared to understand perfectly my concern – Helpful Lady was well aware of what I was talking about. Result: an uncomfortable couple of hours perched on a seat in the concourse area with laptop balanced on my knees. Moral satisfaction all round though…and the cheap BLT sarnie from the competitor’s food counter tasted ethically delicious…at least I am ‘putting my money where my mouth is’. Air travel ethics incident number two: arriving at another European airport much earlier than anticipated, I went to the airline desk to ask whether they could transfer me onto an earlier flight. The friendly lady informed me that I was the proud owner of a low cost, non-modifiable, non-flexible ticket. She reminded me that these were the rules of the airline. “C’est comme ca.”...
Champs or chumps when it comes to ethics?

Champs or chumps when it comes to ethics?

Attending this week’s Champions League match between reigning European champs Real Madrid and Liverpool FC, I was struck by the amount of time the best paid player on the field (and possibly in the world of soccer, but what do I know?) spent (1) falling over, (2) rolling around and (3) whinging to the referee about how unfair it all was. Clearly not new behaviour, and presumably one that pays footballing and financial dividends, but that doesn’t make it The Right Thing To Do. Can we really not expect our on-pitch heroes, role models to their millions of shirt-purchasing fans around the world, to show a small degree of integrity and leadership? How hard can it be to show some basic respect for the rules of the beautiful game and for its (humble and far less well remunerated) referees? Aside from the fact that, IMHO, rolling around on the pitch complaining doesn’t make for great spectator sport. This followed the first leg at Anfield where the new star player for the home team was roundly criticised for swapping shirts at half-time. Helpful clarification of this ethical and cultural grey zone from the opposing captain, who informed the foreign press that “you can swap shirts at half-time in Spain and it’s no problem”. Thanks for that, but could Madrileño ethics possibly differ from Liverpudlian ones? “Usted nunca caminará solo” just doesn’t have the same ring to it… His shirt swapping antics mid-match also prompted outraged press comments that “he really is not a Liverpool-style player”. One wonders whether they considered that before forking out the £16m transfer fee to bring...
Compliance: Spain looks ‘ahead’

Compliance: Spain looks ‘ahead’

The end of “Manaña y manaña y manaña”? Is Compliance ready to awaken in Spain? Some musings on the Scottish play’s lessons for Spanish business. Opinion polls in Spain have repeatedly demonstrated the profound public dissatisfaction (to put it mildly!) at the three evils of Financial Crisis, Unemployment and Corruption. These “Three Witches” have caused great damage to the positive image of Spain for international investors and businesses, where a common perception is that “Fair is foul and Foul is fair”. Publications such as The Local Spain have had rich pickings in selecting the Top Ten corruption cases in the country http://www.thelocal.es/20141030/top-ten-corruption-cases-plaguing-spain-scandal. When the country’s royal family and “leading” politicians are impacted, any semblance of Tone from the Top is irrevocably shattered for generations. So we now learn that 21 January 2015 will be the date when Congress is due to approve the long-awaited reform to the Penal Code. All Spanish companies will now have to appoint a Compliance Officer. This can be the general manager or owner or, for “large companies”, a person independent of the management team. With 24,000 companies falling into the latter category, we are poised for dramatic impact on Compliance in Spain. This goes beyond the compliance best practices and regulatory requirements imposed by other countries. Implementation will clearly be the trick, and it will be fascinating to see what happens on the ground – could corporate Spain really practice one of the world’s most stringent compliance regimes? Will they Walk the Talk? Impact on Integrity is monitoring developments closely to see if the liability on directors for failure to prevent non-compliance, proposed for...