FCPA investigations, conflicts of interest for government officials, and more
Each week, Convercent will highlight some of the top stories and most newsworthy events in the ethics and compliance industry. The focus is global, but you might be surprised by how relevant these stories are, both across borders and businesses.
Last Wednesday, Glencore Plc said it would cooperate with U.S. authorities after documents about the mining firm’s business in Democratic Republic of Congo, Venezuela, and Nigeria were demanded. The Switzerland-based company received a subpoena from the Department of Justice requesting documents and records regarding compliance with the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and money-laundering statutes. Under the FCPA, it is a crime for companies to bribe overseas officials to win business.
Glencore’s scandal demonstrates how important behaving ethically is to businesses around the world: The stock suffered its biggest one-day fall in more than two years after the subpoena announcement last week, and the money laundering subpoena wiped £5 billion off the mining giant’s value in a single hour.
Last week, we shared news of Michigan State University’s new acting chief compliance officer, Nicholas Wittner.
As the new position continues to attract media coverage, Wittner has shared his thoughts on how things will be different moving forward. Of particular interest is how he will have the authority to act independently: “We will audit [ethical violations]. Then we will report [them] to the board. I make those reports. I’m directly reporting to the board. There’s no one I have to go through to get to the board.”
Hopefully, this independence will be the key to lasting ethical reform at MSU.
Arkansas Solicitor General Lee Rudofsky publicly announced that he is resigning from the state’s top trial attorney position after three years. Mr. Rudofsky will soon work with Walmart in an ethics role. This is another positive example of companies moving toward greater ethical health.
The head of compliance for Danske, Denmark’s largest bank, has said he will resign. Anders Meinert Jørgensen has stated that his resignation isn’t related to the bank’s money-laundering scandal in Estonia.
The internal investigation into the potential money-laundering activity that occurred between 2007 to 2015 should be completed by September. According to Danske, it had insufficient controls to prevent money laundering during that period.
US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross says he will sell all of his stocks after letter from ethics office
In recent months, various media reports revealed that Ross held, or had held, stakes in companies who could be affected by U.S. trade policy decisions. Since Ross is involved in these decisions, there was a clear conflict of interest. In light of a July 12th letter from the U.S. Office of Government Ethics, Ross has vowed to sell all of his equity holdings and purchase Treasury securities with the proceeds. The letter’s ending was a poignant reminder that,
“The success of our Government depends on maintaining the trust of the people we serve. The American public needs to have confidence that Government officials take their ethical commitments seriously, and exercise the required care to ensure complete compliance with those commitments.”