Compliance and Ethics in Review: March 19, 2019

The Latest and Greatest Industry News

Spotify takes on Apple in the EU, getting to know the FBI’s Office of Integrity and Compliance, how new technologies impact ethics, and more.

Join the Convercent team for a weekly review 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.

Spotify Accuses Apple of Anticompetitive Practices in Europe

Spotify has filed a complaint against Apple with EU regulators, claiming the tech giant has been abusing its position in the marketplace and violating European antitrust laws. The complaint accuses Apple of using the App Store to downplay the apps of companies who compete with its services. Apple Music and Spotify are direct competitors, both aiming to dominate the music streaming marketplace.

Daniel Ek, Spotify’s chief executive, has strong words for Apple: “Apps should be able to compete fairly on the merits, and not based on who owns the App Store … We should all be subject to the same fair set of rules and restrictions — including Apple Music.”

Regulators in Europe have expressed concern over Apple’s dominance in music, so this will be a case to watch. In the past, the European Commission has leveraged antitrust complaints into larger investigations of tech platforms.

Novartis, Volkswagen Focus on Improving Culture Following Compliance Setbacks

Nowadays, compliance professionals are tasked with things like guarding the company’s reputation, making sure investors and government agencies have adequate information, and strengthening internal culture as it relates to compliance efforts.

Compliance executive at Novartis and Volkswagen acknowledged this new playing field during a recent panel discussion hosted by Dow Jones Risk & Compliance and The Wall Street Journal. Their presence was fitting since both companies have found themselves embroiled in high-profile scandals for failures stemming from their compliance programs.

Thomas Kendris, president of Novartis Corp. explained, “In the past, it might have been good enough to get good business results and do what is legal … What the government and our shareholders are expecting—and what society is expecting—is to do what’s right. They are not only looking at whether we follow the law, but how we do business.

UW-Madison reviewing policies in wake of national college admissions scandal

In the aftermath of the recent college admissions scandal, the University of Wisconsin at Madison has announced it will review its admissions policies.

The announcement might sound like cause for alarm, but this review process is not indicative of an underlying problem — it’s normal for universities to conduct such reviews in response to crises at other universities.

Deutsche Bank starts merger talks with Commerzbank

Germany’s two largest banks, Deutsche Bank and Commerzbank, are currently considering a merger. Their combined power would create an entity capable of competing alongside Wall Street in the world’s financial market. European banks have struggled to turn profits in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis, though American banks have experienced continued growth.

As Deutsche Bank and Commerzbank explore a merger, they’d be wise to keep these words from Patrick Quinlan, Convercent’s CEO, in mind: Healthy companies who are leading in today’s markets don’t just put financial decisions first. They put customer service there, alongside innovation, leadership, and ethics.”

FCPA Self-Reporting Program Makes Headway, Justice Official Says

In 2017, the Justice Department launched a pilot program for companies that, “reported wrongdoing under the FCPA, cooperated with government investigators, strengthened compliance practices and disgorged profits.” Companies who opted to self-report foreign corruption were promised more lenient penalties and limited prosecution. At the time of writing, the Justice Department publicized 12 FCPA-related cases where prosecutors declined to charge companies that self-reported.

Is maintaining compliance with the FCPA a top priority for your company? If so, it’s not too late to learn from 2018’s FCPA enforcement actions. For more information that you can use in your program right away, watch this webinar: FCPA Enforcement: What Happened in 2018? (Plus, What’s in Store For 2019).

An inside look into the FBI’s Office of Integrity and Compliance

Back in 2007, the FBI was one of the first federal agencies in the U.S. to establish a compliance function. The organization was tasked with combining its existing ethics unit with this new compliance unit, eventually leading to the creation of the FBI’s Office of Integrity and Compliance.

By combining private sector practices with the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines, they quickly set an example for other government agencies to follow. That’s why Compliance Week recently sat down with the office’s first assistant director, Patrick Kelly, to learn more about the inner workings of the program.

Top bureaucrat Michael Wernick resigns over SNC-Lavalin affair

Fallout from the SNC-Lavalin affair (a fraud and corruption case with alleged political interference) continues to rock the foundations of Canadian politics. Michael Wernick, Canada’s former Clerk of the Privy Council, submitted his resignation earlier this week after admitting he had lost the “trust and respect” of the opposition parties over his role in the SNC-Lavalin affair.

Mr. Wernick actively sought to help the scandal-ridden construction giant avoid criminal prosecution. He is now the fourth high-level bureaucrat to leave his position since reports first surfaced that the Prime Minister’s Office allegedly tried to influence the ongoing prosecution of SNC-Lavalin.

Do new technologies take ethics out of healthcare?

With the proliferation of artificial intelligence (AI) and other new technologies, businesses across industries must assess the ethical implications. Digital transformation is something we talk about a lot at Convercent, especially during Converge roundtables and other events. So, it’s not surprising that the healthcare industry is grappling with similar ethical dilemmas.

According to Dr. Ted Rohr, the Research Ethics and Compliance Support Director at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia: “Technology doesn’t take the ethics out of healthcare, it brings more ethics into healthcare. It enables devices to be presented safely to patients or data from apps from being misused, for example.”

2019 Largest Tech Employers in Denver

Convercent is honored to be featured on the Denver Business Journal’s list of the largest tech employers in Denver, ranked by the number of full-time employees as of January 1, 2019. We came in at spot #15, alongside some truly phenomenal local companies doing great work.

Nothing we do would be possible without our team of hardworking and talented employees, and we’re always on the lookout for passionate people. Do you know someone who would love to give a voice to whistleblowers and victims while helping companies become more ethical? We’re hiring, so send them our way!