New EU-wide whistle-blower rules approved

On April 16, the European Parliament voted(1) in favor of adopting new European Union (“EU”) wide standards to protect whistle-blowers. The standards are designed to protect whistle-blowers that reveal breaches of EU law in areas of public procurement, financial services and tax, money laundering, product and transport safety, protection of the environment, food and feed safety, animal health and welfare, nuclear safety, public health, security of network and information systems, competition, consumer and data protection, fraud, corruption and any other illegal activity affecting the use of Union expenditures.

The new rules allow whistle-blowers to disclose information either internally to the responsible legal entity, or national authorities, as well as any relevant EU institutions, bodies, offices, and agencies. The law prohibits reprisals and includes safeguards preventing the whistle-blower from being suspended, demoted or from facing other types of retaliation.

Recent scandals such as LuxLeaks, Panama Papers and Football leaks have helped to shine a light on the great precariousness that whistle-blowers suffer today. On the eve of European elections, Parliament has come together to send a strong signal that it has heard the concerns of its citizens, and pushed for robust rules guaranteeing their safety and that of those persons who choose to speak out.” - Virginie Roziere (S&D, FR)

Some Adopted Text

Persons who work for a public or private organisation or are in contact with it in the context of their work-related activities are often the first to know about threats or harm to the public interest which arise in this context. By ‘blowing the whistle’ they play a key role in exposing and preventing breaches of the law that are harmful to the public interest and in safeguarding the welfare of society. However, potential whistleblowers are often discouraged from reporting their concerns or suspicions for fear of retaliation. In this context, the importance of providing balanced and effective whistleblower protection is increasingly acknowledged both at European and international level.”(2)

To enjoy protection, the reporting persons should reasonably believe, in light of the circumstances and the information available to them at the time of the reporting, that the matters reported by them are true. This is an essential safeguard against malicious and frivolous or abusive reports, ensuring that those who, at the time of the reporting, deliberately and knowingly reported wrong or misleading information do not enjoy protection. At the same time, it ensures that protection is not lost where the reporting person made an inaccurate report in honest error. In a similar vein, reporting persons should be entitled to protection under this Directive if they have reasonable grounds to believe that the information reported falls within its scope. The motives of the reporting person in making the report should be irrelevant as to whether or not they should receive protection.”(2)

Next Steps

EU ministers now need to approve the law. Once approved, member states will have two years to come into compliance with the law.

GCSG Advisory Professionals will be keeping up with the progress of this legislation. Contact us to learn more.

References

ICC issues conflict of interest guidelines

The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC)(1) recently published enterprise guidelines for conflicts of interest.(2) The guidelines were prepared by the ICC’s Commission on Corporate Responsibility and Anti-Corruption.

The guidelines “provide recommendations to Enterprises on how to monitor and manage Conflicts of Interest facing their directors, officers, employees, agents and representatives.”(3)

Managing conflict of interest situations is important to the governance of any organization. If these situations are not properly managed they have the potential to result in instances of corruption and ultimately a loss of integrity for the organization. The ICC Rules on Combating Corruption say the following about Conflicts of Interest:

“Conflicts of interest may arise when the private interests of an individual or of his/her close relatives, friends or business contacts diverge from those of the Enterprise or organisation to which the individual belongs. These situations should be disclosed and, wherever possible, avoided because they can affect an individual’s judgment in the performance of his/her duties and responsibilities. Enterprises should closely monitor and regulate actual or potential conflicts of interest, or the appearance thereof, of their directors, officers, employees and agents and should not take advantage of conflicts of interest of others.”(4)

Conflicts of Interest, if left unresolved, can result in corrupt practices within an organization.

For more information on how to establish Conflict of Interest policies within your organization Contact GCSG’s Compliance and Ethics professionals.

References:

  1. ICC - “International Chamber of Commerce - Home Page

  2. ICC - “Guidelines on Conflicts of Interest in Enterprises” - Web page

  3. ICC - “Guidelines on Conflicts of Interest in Enterprises.pdf

  4. ICC - “Rules on Combating Corruption” - Web Page

Weekly Compliance News - Around the World

GCSG's Weekly Compliance News feature is a compilation of some of the previous weeks interesting trade compliance, anti-bribery/corruption, fraud, and due diligence news bites, from around the world.

Europe, Russia and China join forces with a new mechanism to dodge Iran sanctions | CNBC

"In the latest sign of the growing divide between Washington and its allies, the European Union's foreign policy chief announced Monday that the bloc was creating a new payment mechanism to allow countries to transact with Iran while avoiding U.S. sanctions." (Click here for the article) - USA, Russia, China, European Union

China says US trying to force it to submit on trade as new tariffs kick in | Reuters

"The United States and China imposed fresh tariffs on each other’s goods on Monday as the world’s biggest economies showed no signs of backing down from an increasingly bitter trade dispute that is expected to hit global economic growth." (Click here for the article) - USA, China

Novartis links bonuses to ethics in bid to rebuild reputation | GAN Integrity Inc.

"Swiss drug maker Novartis has revealed its employees only get a bonus if they meet or exceed expectations for ethical behavior as it seeks to address past shortcomings that have damaged its reputation." (Click here for the article) - Switzerland, USA, South Korea, China

Japan mulls bilateral trade deal with U.S. | Reuters

"Japan is mulling a bilateral trade agreement with the United States that would lower tariffs on U.S. agriculture imports in exchange for avoiding higher tariffs on Japanese autos, the Nikkei newspaper said on Saturday." (Click here for the article) - Japan, USA

Potential NAFTA collapse poses major risk to Canada | Financial Post

"Canada’s economic growth could be pared by about a quarter next year if the North American Free Trade Agreement collapses, and the drag will be extended if an automobile trade war emerges, according to a new Conference Board forecast." (Click here for the article) - Canada, USA

British inquiry intensifies Danske Bank money laundering scandal | Reuters

"Danske Bank’s money laundering scandal spread on Friday to Britain where the National Crime Agency said it is investigating the use of UK-registered companies." (Click here for the article) - Finland, Denmark, Estonia, Russia, UK

BASF commits to complying with US sanctions on Iran | Politico

"German chemical giant BASF has made a firm commitment to comply with all U.S. sanctions against Iran, becoming the latest in a string of large European companies to back away from ambitious plans to invest in the Islamic Republic following Washington’s withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal." (Click here for the article) - Germany, Iran, USA

US Sanctions Russia and China-based IT companies for connections to DPRK | WorldECR

"The US Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (‘OFAC’) has sanctioned a Chinese IT company, its Russian counterpart and its North Korean CEO, targeting revenue repatriated to North Korea (‘DPRK’) through overseas IT workers." (Click here for the article) - Russia, China, North Korea, USA

Weekly Compliance News - Around the World

GCSG's Weekly Compliance News feature is a compilation of some of the previous weeks interesting trade compliance, anti-bribery/corruption, fraud, and due diligence news bites, from around the world.

US President signs miscellaneous tariff bill - eliminates tariffs | crowell moring

"On September 13, 2018, President Trump signed the Miscellaneous Tariff Bill (MTB) Act of 2018, which temporarily reduces or eliminates import duties on specified raw materials and intermediate products used in manufacturing that are not produced or available domestically." (Click here for the article) - USA

Danske Bank CEO quits over $234 billion money laundering scandal | Reuters

"Danske Bank’s chief executive Thomas Borgen resigned on Wednesday after an investigation revealed payments totaling 200 billion euros ($234 billion) through its small Estonian branch, many of which the bank said were suspicious." (Click here for the article) - Estonia, Russia, Denmark, European Union

U.S.’s Ross says China must decide on trade talks | CNBC

"It is up to Beijing to take the next steps on trade talks, U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said on Tuesday as China vowed to retaliate after U.S. President Donald Trump imposed initial duties on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods." (Click here for the article) - China, USA

US Legislation Gives BIS Greater Powers | WorldECR

"The US Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security (‘BIS’) has been given statutory authority under the Export Control Reform Act (‘ECRA’), to control certain exports. The act was signed into law by President Trump on 13 August." (Click here for the article) - USA

Europe Moves to Target Money Laundering in Response to Scandals | WSJ

"Europe threw a one-two punch to fight money laundering on Wednesday, with the European Commission proposing enhanced powers for a regulator and lawmakers passing a package of new rules." (Click here for the article) - European Union

Foreign Bribery Rages Unchecked in over half of Global Trade | Transparency International

"Transparency International’s new report, Exporting Corruption, finds that only 11 major exporting countries - accounting for about a third of world exports - have active or moderate law enforcement against companies bribing abroad in order to gain mining rights, contracts for major construction projects, purchases of planes and other deals." (Click here for the article) - Global

Canada returning to NAFTA talks earlier than expected | CBC

"NAFTA talks are resuming at the decision-maker level sooner than expected, with Canada's foreign affairs minister set to return to Washington on Tuesday." (Click here for the article) - Canada, USA, Mexico

Weekly Compliance News - Around the World

GCSG's Weekly Compliance News feature is a compilation of some of the previous weeks interesting trade compliance, anti-bribery/corruption, fraud, and due diligence news bites, from around the world.

Sanctions Busters Smuggled North Korean Coal, Iron to the South via Russia | WSJ

"Three South Koreans illegally imported North Korean coal and iron via Russia in violation of sanctions, South Korean customs officials said, exposing a crack in the US-led campaign to cut off trade with the Pyongyang regime." (Click here for the article) - North Korea, South Korea, Russia, USA

Iran Sanctions Wind-Down Period Ends and New Iran Executive Order | Baker McKenzie

"In conjunction with the New Iran EO, the US Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control issued extensive new guidance on the New Iran EO..." (Click here for the article) - Iran, USA, European Union

FIFA eliminates "corruption" from Code of Ethics | NBC Sports

"FIFA eliminated the word "corruption" from its revised code of ethics during "secret meetings"..." (Click here for the article) - Global

Petrobras recovers $274 million from corruption scandal | Yahoo News

"Brazil's state-owned oil major Petrobras said Thursday that it has recovered 1.034 billion reais ($274 million) in funds embezzled during a giant corruption scandal that badly damaged the company and upended Brazilian politics." (Click here for the article) - Brazil

Customs of Ukraine and Serbia will work together to fight corruption | The Bobr Times

"Ukraine and Serbia signed a document that concerns data interchange between the customs authorities of the two countries and should increase the efficiency of the fight against corruption." (Click here for the article) - Serbia, Ukraine

The Long-Term Impact of Brexit on the European Union | Seeking Alpha

"When the United Kingdom leaves the European Union, higher barriers to trade, capital flows, and labor mobility will affect output and jobs not only in the UK but also in the remaining 27 EU member states." (Click here for the article) - UK, European Union

There's a good chance to reach a NAFTA deal this month | BDP International

"The U.S., Mexico and Canada have a good opportunity to reach a NAFTA agreement this month, and getting there will depend on the political flexibility of the Trump administration, according to the top representative for Mexico's private sector." (Click here for the article) - Mexico, Canada, USA

US, China to resume Trade Talks as Tariffs Bite | WSJ

"The US and China reached a modest breakthrough in their trade dispute, saying they would hold lower-level talks later this month on the spiraling dispute." (Click here for the article) - China, USA

Venezuelan President implicated in US investigation of money laundering | Malta Independent

"Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has been implicated in an American investigation for having laundered some 160 million euros through an unnamed Maltese private investment firm..." (Click here for the article) - Malta, Venezuela, USA

Saturday Compliance News - Around the World

GCSG's Weekly Compliance News feature is a compilation of some of the previous weeks interesting trade compliance, anti-bribery/corruption, fraud, and due diligence news bites, from around the world.

Are CEOs Less Ethical Than in the Past? | Strategy + Business

"The job of a CEO at a large publicly held company may seem to be quite comfortable - high pay, excellent benefits, elevated social status, and access to private jets.  But the comfortable perch is increasingly becoming a hot seat, especially when CEOs and their employees cross red lines." (Click here for the article) - Global

What if BREXIT Happened Without an Exit Deal? | Stratfor

"Negotiators for the UK and the EU are racing the clock to reach agreements on a long list of remaining issues before the UK formally leaves the bloc..." (Click here for the article) - UK, European Union

Texas jury indicts Arkema, two executives over chemical releases | Reuters

"A Texas grand jury on Friday indicted chemicals manufacturer Arkema North America and two of its executives for releasing emissions that allegedly endangered the public after a 2017 hurricane." (Click here for the article) - USA

OFAC Sanctions Russian Bank for Moving North Korean Cash | RegTech Post

"The Office of Foreign Assets Control has named Russia's Commercial Bank Agrosoyuz as a Specially Designated National, for moving funds for a DPRK bank, and for two front companies acting for the North Korean Government." (Click here for the article) - Russia, North KoreaUSA

US elevates India to most-important allies list  | The Economic Times

"In a big boost to India, the US has eased the export restrictions for high-technology product sales to India by designating it as a Strategic Trade Authorization-1 country, the only South Asian nation to be on the 36 countries list." (Click here for the article) - IndiaUSA

EU Privacy Becomes Excuse to Withhold in US Bribery Probes | Bloomberg Law

"Companies are improperly using the European Union's fairly new privacy standards as the scapegoat for why they can't disclose documents to the US government during foreign bribery investigations..." (Click here for the article) - European Union, USA

CNPC refutes subsidiary's role in 1MDB money-laundering scandal | South China Morning Post

"China Petroleum Pipeline Engineering, a unit of China's state-owned oil and gas giant China National Petroleum Corp, had refuted a media report that money paid for its pipeline projects in Malaysia was diverted to third-party Cayman Islands companies involved in money laundering." (Click here for the article) - China, Malaysia, Cayman Islands, UAE

OECD Publishes Phase 4 Anti-Bribery Implementation Report on Germany

In June, the OECD published their Phase 4 report (the "Report") on Germany's implementation of the 1997 OECD Anti-Bribery Convention.  The OECD published their Phase 3 report on Germany in March 2011.

The Report describes Germany's achievements, challenges, and enforcement practices related to its foreign bribery laws.  Since 1999, there have been 67 bribery cases in Germany that have resulted in 328 individuals and 18 entities being sanctioned.  A majority of these having occurred in the last 5 years.  This rate places Germany among the highest enforcers of the Anti-Bribery Convention in the world.  

The Working Group commended Germany for holding individuals responsible, but noted a concern that there appeared to be insufficient enforcement against companies.  The Report noted that Germany has demonstrated an ability to detect bribery allegations through multiple sources including Mutual Legal Assistance, self-reporting by companies, coordination with tax authorities, and joint investigative teams in multi-jurisdiction investigations.    

Bribery Risks in Light of Trade Profile

Germany is the largest European economy and the 4th largest economy in the world.  It accounted for 7.85% of the world's exports in 2016.(1)  The German economy is very strongly oriented towards exports. Exports accounted for almost half of Germany's GDP in 2016.(2)  47% of German foreign direct investment is in the United States, UK, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands.(3)  Many of the bribery allegations involving German companies and nationals related to projects in Central, Eastern, and South-Eastern Europe.  

Germany's trading with China has increased substantially recently.  German imports from and exports to China rose to 180 billion USD in 2016 and Germany became the largest recipient of Chinese foreign direct investment in 2017.(4)

Germany has a high exposure to the risk of bribery of foreign officials due to its dependency on exports and its trading in high-risk industrial sectors in high-risk jurisdictions.(5

Bribery Cases        

Since 2011 there have been 121 foreign bribery cases being investigated, with 35 still under investigation and 42 cases terminated due to insufficient grounds.  47 cases have resulted in sanctions on individuals and/or companies.  In the last five years the rate of enforcement has increased significantly over the previous ten years.  

Report Conclusions and Recommendations

  • German tax authorities have played a large role in detecting foreign bribery cases.
  • There is strong cooperation between tax authorities, prosecutors, and the Police.
  • OECD commends Germany's efforts to investigate, prosecute, and sanction individuals.
  • Germany plays a leading role in enforcing the Anti-Bribery Convention.
  • A couple of the many recommendations included that they provide clear guidance to companies about self-reporting procedures and that they amend legislation to provide clear protections for whistle-blowers.

Case Examples from the Report

Aviation company: "A subsidiary of a German aviation company paid bribes amounting to EUR 100 000 between 2007 and 2011 to responsible persons of an aviation authority in a central African state to facilitate the securing more consulting service contracts for the privatisation of the African state run airports. The benefits resulting from the concluded consulting service contract were estimated to equal the paid bribes. The investigation proceedings were initiated in 2013 based on information self-reported by the company and received from foreign authorities. In the course of the investigation, MLA requests were sent to three Parties to the Convention in 2014 and 2017. Informal contacts were established with one Party prior to the execution of one of the MLA requests. The German aviation company was held liable by Cologne Local Court in 2014 and received a EUR 100 000 regulatory fine. No individual was held liable in this case."(6)

DB Schenker (Russia): "DB Schenker, a German logistics provider of the state-owned German rail company Deutsche Bahn, was commissioned to deliver car parts to Russia. Bribes amounting to EUR 1.7 million were paid to customs officers in order to get these officers to forego the customs controls and to accelerate customs clearance. The Cologne Public Prosecutor office opened an investigation in 2013 based on an anonymous report which led Schenker’s parent company DB Deutsche Bahn to self-report to law enforcement authorities. In total, seven individuals, including the former chief executive, entered into a resolution pursuant to section 153a CCP. In turn, DB Schenker was held liable by the Cologne Local Court in 2016 and received an overall regulatory fine of EUR 2 million. The punitive component of the fine is EUR 300°000 and the confiscatory component EUR 1.7 million.186 The prosecutors indicate that the amount of the confiscatory component is equal to the amount of the bribe payments because the proceeds of bribery could not be estimated."

References and Key Links:

Wednesday Compliance News - Around the World

GCSG's Wednesday Compliance News is a compilation of some of the previous weeks interesting trade compliance, anti-bribery/corruption, fraud, and due diligence news bites, from around the world.

Texas Instruments CEO Resigns after Code of Conduct Violations | WSJ

"Texas Instruments Inc.'s Chief Executive Brian Crutcher has resigned over violations of the company's code of conduct..." (Click here for the article) - USA

US Tariffs are taxing for the whole world, not just China | South China Morning Post

"The United States' unilateral imposition of 25 per cent tariffs on Chinese products worth US$34 billion damages the global economy in the short term, and strategically threatens the economic well-being of numerous other countries." (Click here for the article) - China, USA

Japan's first corporate plea deal resolves overseas bribery case | The FCPA Blog

"Prosecutors in Tokyo used a plea bargain to resolve an overseas bribery case with a power plant maker under a new law adopted in June..." (Click here for the article) - Japan, Thailand

Lativia's Corruption Scandal is Getting Even Weirder | Bloomberg

"It's central bank chief has been charged with bribery.  A lawyer liquidating the bank that was accused of bribing him was killed in a hail of machine-gun fire.  And one of the banks' biggest lenders was shut down after U.S. allegations of money laundering and violations of sanctions on North Korea." (Click here for the article) - Latvia, USA, North Korea, Russia, Luxembourg, EU

Terrorists slipping through net thanks to anti-money laundering unit delays | Handelsblatt Global

"The Financial Intelligence Unit is overworked and understaffed, say police and prosecutors.  Staff only pass on tips six months after crimes are committed..." (Click here for the article) - Germany

Wednesday Compliance News - Around the World

GCSG's Wednesday Compliance News is a compilation of some of the previous weeks interesting trade compliance, anti-bribery/corruption, fraud, and due diligence news bites, from around the world.

India, South Korea sign agreements on trade and commerce | India Times

"India and South Korea will reduce duties on 11 tariff lines in a bid to expand bilateral trade..." (Click here for the article) - India, South Korea

HMRC doubles fines for breaking money laundering rules | Financial Times

"The UK tax authority almost doubled the fines it handed down for violations of money-laundering rules in the latest financial year..." (Click here for the article) - UK

Iran calls for EU help as shipping giant pulls out for fear of US sanctions | KYC360

"One of the world's biggest cargo shippers announced on Saturday it was pulling out of Iran for fear of becoming entangled in U.S. sanctions..." (Click here for the article) - EU, Britain, France, Germany, China, Russia, Iran, USA

China Implements New Tariffs on US Products | CNBC

"China immediately slapped retaliatory tariffs on US imports on Friday after the US imposed duties on $34 billion worth of Chinese products..." (Click here for the article) - China, USA

Pakistan's Former Prime Minister Found Guilty of Corruption | WSJ

"A Pakistani court found former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif guilty of corruption in a verdict that will likely affect the country's election..." (Click here for the article) - Pakistan

US SEC Charges Credit Suisse with FCPA Violations | Securities and Exchange Commission Press Release

"The SEC today announced that Credit Suisse Group AG will pay approximately $30 million to resolve SEC charges that it obtained investment banking business in the Asia-Pacific region by corruptly influencing foreign officials in violation of the FCPA..." (Click here for the article) - Pakistan

Tuesday Compliance News - Around the World

GCSG's Tuesday Compliance News is a compilation of some of the previous weeks interesting trade compliance, anti-bribery/corruption, fraud, and due diligence news bites, from around the world.

European firms are increasingly tackling the scourge of bribery | The Economist

"Governments in Europe are catching up with America in pursuing corporate graft...A spate of scandals in Europe suggest that prosecutors, as well as the politicians who influence how much freedom judicial investigators enjoy, are becoming ever less tolerant of corporate corruption" (Click here for the article) - Europe, USA

Fraud biggest business risk to Middle East Businesses  | Gulf Digital News

"48% of Middle East businesses cited fraud and corruption as the greatest risk to their company, followed by cyber attacks (38%)..." (Click here for the article) - Middle East

Vietnam arrests oil refinery executives amid corruption crackdown  | Reuters

"Police in Vietnam arrested the chairman and the chief accountant of Binh Son Refining and Petrochemical Co. Ltd. on suspicion of embezzlement..." (Click here for the article) - Vietnam

UK Data Protection Act 2018  | Cordery Compliance

"The UK's new data protection legislation, the Data Protection Act 2018 (DPA 2018) received the Royal Assent..." (Click here for the article) - UK, Europe

Serious Fraud Office charges against Barclays dismissed  | Independent

"A court has dismissed charges brought by the Serious Fraud Office against Barclays relating to capital raisings that took place in 2008." (Click here for the article) - UK, Europe

 

 

Monday Compliance News - Around the World

GCSG's Monday Compliance News is a compilation of some of the previous weeks interesting trade compliance, anti-bribery/corruption, fraud, and due diligence news bites, from around the world.

British defense contractor under fraud investigation in Algeria | ArabNews.com

"Ultra Electronics on Thursday announced that the UK's Serious Fraud Office had opened a criminal investigation into 'suspected corruption in the conduct of business' by the British defense contractor in Algeria." (Click here for the article) - UK, Algeria

NIST Releases v 1.1 of its Cybersecurity Framework | NIST News

"The U.S. Commerce Department's National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has released version 1.1 of its popular Framework for Improving Critical Infrastructure Cybersecurity..." (Click here for the article) - USA

African Union planning free trade area 7 times larger than the EU | African Union News

"The Extraordinary Summit on the African Continental Free TRADE AfCFTA held from 17 – 21 March 2018 in Kigali , Rwanda, will serve as a platform for the African Union to sign into existence another flagship project that will boost intra-Africa trade: The Treaty Establishing the African Economic Community relating to Free Movement of Persons, Rights of Residence and Right of Establishment." (Click here for the article) - Africa

U.S. publishes list of China-origin products subject to 25% duty | EY

"On 3 April 2018, the United States Trade Representative (USTR) published a proposed list of Chinese goods targeted for assessment of an additional 25% duty upon importation into the United States." (Click here for the article) - China, USA

UK SFO facing judicial review on powers to demand overseas data | Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer

"The Serious Fraud Office is facing another judicial review of its actions—this time by US engineering and construction company, KBR Inc...The issue in dispute is the SFO’s power to compel KBR Inc to produce data held in the US." (Click here for the article) - UK, USA

China Launches Website to Report Foreign Spies, Corrupt Officials | South China Morning Post

"China has stepped up its campaign against foreign espionage with a website in Mandarin and English encouraging people to report national security threats such as bids to 'overthrow the socialist system'.  The website, 12339.gov.cn, launched by the Ministry of National Security on Sunday, also urges anyone to report attempts by Chinese nationals or foreigners to bribe state or military officials, instigate armed riots or incite ethnic separatism." (Click here for the article) - China

Construction Sector Experiences Heightened Vulnerability to Fraud | Construction Executive

"Ninety-three percent of construction, engineering and infrastructure sector executives said their companies had experienced a cyber incident or information theft, loss or attack in the past year—the highest proportion of all sectors..." (Click here for the article) - Global

Stricter EU Rules on Money Laundering and Terrorism Financing | European Parliament

"To increase transparency and respond to the latest technological developments, MEPs voted on 19 April in favour of an update of EU legislation on money laundering and terrorism financing.  The new directive is aimed at preventing the EU’s financial system from being used to fund criminal activities. It also includes a ban on the large-scale concealment of funds and creates more transparency with regards to the true ownership of companies and trusts." (Click here for the article) - EU

Italy Expands Whistleblower Protections

Italy's Anti-corruption law, known as the Severino law (1), was promulgated in 2012.  The Severino law included public sector whistleblower protection provisions but it did not include protections for many private sector whistleblowers.  On November 30, 2017 a new law ("Law 179") was passed that included enhanced protections for public sector employees as well as more general protections for private sector whistleblowers. (2

Some of the important elements of Law 179 as it relates to public sector employees include:

  • A public employee that reports illegal conduct is not to be retaliated against
  • The anti-retaliation provisions for public employees now include employees of public economic entities, private law employees subject to public scrutiny, and to employees of contractors of companies supplying goods or services to the public administration
  • Allows for the reporting of violations to an internal officer, to the National Anti-Corruption Authority (3), an accounting authority, or to the judiciary
  • Reinforces the protection of the anonymity of a whistleblower

Some of the important elements of Law 179 as it relates to private sector employees:

  • Extends private sector employee protections beyond just the finance sector, insurance companies, and specific activities such as worker health and safety (4,5,6)
  • Requires companies that already have compliance programs to develop a whistleblower reporting program that includes at least one reporting mechanism allowing employees to report illegal conduct or potential violations and at least one confidential reporting mechanism that protects the whistleblower's identity
  • Requires companies should have a department responsible for managing the whistleblower program, procedures that provide guidance on what is covered and the protections provided, and allow for the discipline of employees that violate the procedures
  • Includes a prohibition against whistleblower retaliation  
  • The Company bears the burden of proof when a whistleblower makes a retaliation claim

Law 179 entered into force on December 29, 2017.

References:

Monday Compliance News - Around the World

GCSG's Monday Compliance News is a compilation of some of the previous weeks interesting trade compliance, anti-bribery/corruption, fraud, and due diligence news bites, from around the world.

South Korea's Ousted President, Gets 24 Years in Prison | The New York Times

"Park Geun-hye, South Korea's impeached and ousted president, was sentenced on Friday to 24 years in prison on bribery and other charges in a case that exposed the entrenched, collusive ties between the government and huge conglomerates like Samsung." (Click here for the article) - South Korea

U.S. seeks about 20 years prison for Turkish banker in Iran sanctions case | Reuters

"U.S. prosecutors on Wednesday asked a federal judge to sentence a Turkish banker convicted of helping Iran evade U.S. sanctions to about 20 years in prison." (Click here for the article) - U.S., Turkey

Metro-Atlanta travel agency operators charged with Fraud scheme | US DOJ

"Elisabeth Greenhill and Jonathan Greenhill have been charged for running a fraud scheme that targeted faith-based and humanitarian groups conducting mission work overseas." (Click here for the article) - U.S.

Ukraine's Privatbank files $3 bn lawsuit against PWC subsidiaries | Reuters

"Ukraine's largest bank, PrivatBank, said on Monday it had filed a $3 billion lawsuit against the Ukrainian and Cypriot subsidiaries of international accounting firm PwC for alleged breaches during audits of the lender in 2013-2015." (Click here for the article) - Ukraine

Trudeau sees high chance of NAFTA deal with Mexico | Yahoo

"Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau signaled Thursday he saw a strong chance of reaching a deal with the US and Mexico to revamp the North American Free Trade Agreement." (Click here for the article) - Mexico, Canada, U.S.

Third Gas Pipeline Data System Shuts One Day After Cyber-attack | RigZone

"A third U.S. pipeline company reported its electronic system for communicating with customers has stopped working, a day after a cyber-attack resulted in a similar shutdown." (Click here for the article) - U.S.

US and South Korea Reach Agreement on KORUS FTA | USTR Press Release

"...the United States and the Republic of Korea have reached an agreement in principle on the general terms of amendments and modifications to the United States-Republic of Korea Free Trade Agreement." (Click here for the article) - U.S.

 

Monday Compliance News - Around the World

GCSG's Monday Compliance News is a compilation of some of the previous weeks interesting trade compliance, anti-bribery/corruption, fraud, and due diligence news bites, from around the world.

Not so global Britain - Muddled attitudes towards free trade | The Economist

"Public views of trade deals are more complicated than politicians allow" (Click here for the article) - UK, EU

Hezbollah in South America: The Threat to Business | Stratfor

"Businesses must take a variety of threats from Hezbollah into account when operating in South America.  Chief among these is corruption, which Hezbollah exploits - and which can also adversely impact business operations..." (Click here for the article) - South America, Lebanon, U.S.

Novartis bribery probe: ten Greek ex-ministers allegedly involved | The LOCAL ch

"Two former Greek prime ministers and eight former ministers have been implicated in an alleged corruption scandal involving Swiss pharmaceutical giant Novartis..." (Click here for the article) - Greece, Switzerland, China

World Bank Group Announces Debarment of Three companies | The World Bank

"The World Bank today announced the debarment of three companies – Gavinor, S.R.L., J.C. Segura Construcciones S.A., and a joint-venture, Constructura J.C. Segura Construcciones S. A.-Gavinor S.R.L.-UTE – for 18 months in connection with the companies’ fraudulent practice of knowingly misrepresenting work progress during a contract..." (Click here for the article) - Argentina

U.S. Becomes World's Second-Biggest Tax Haven | The Wall Street Journal

"The U.S. rose for the third straight time in a ranking of tax havens, becoming the world's second-largest..." (Click here for the article) - U.S., Global

Samsung Heir Freed, to Dismay of South Korea's Anti-Corruption Campaigners  | The NY Times

"When Lee Jae-yong, the de facto leader of Samsung, walked free on Monday after spending barely a year in jail, it reaffirmed a pattern South Koreans have fought for decades to break: Business tycoons convicted of corruption here hardly spend any time behind bars..." (Click here for the article) - South Korea

Monday Compliance News - Around the World

GCSG's Monday Compliance News is a compilation of some of the previous weeks interesting trade compliance, anti-bribery/corruption, fraud, and due diligence news bites, from around the world.

Canada, Mexico Reject Proposal to Rework NAFTA Corporate Arbitration System | WSJ

"Mexico and Canada have rejected a proposal by the Trump administration to remake a corporate arbitration system that is a key part of the North American Free Trade Agreement...." (Click here for the article) - Canada, Mexico, United States

Tanker full of Russian Gas to Land in Boston Despite Sanctions | The Daily Caller

"Despite sanctions, a shipment of liquid natural gas from a blacklisted Russian company in Siberia is expected to be unloaded in Boston this weekend." (Click here for the article) - United States, Russia

Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal freed amid corruption probe veiled in secrecy | Chicago Tribune

"Billionaire Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, who had been held in a luxury hotel since November in a wide-reaching anti-corruption probe that has been shrouded in secrecy and intrigue, was released on Saturday..." (Click here for the article) - Saudi Arabia

Prosecutors charge 6 in multiyear scheme to help KPMG pass inspections of its work | The Washington Post

"KPMG, one of the world's largest accounting firms was repeatedly tipped off about regulator's plans to inspect its work..." (Click here for the article) - Global

Texas man sentenced for conspiring to illegally export radiation hardened integrated circuits to Russia and China | US DOJ

"Peter Zuccarelli, 62, of Plano, Texas was sentenced today to 46 months in prison for conspiring to smuggle and illegally export from the U.S..." (Click here for the article) - United States, China, Russia

Monday Compliance News - Around the World

GCSG's Monday Compliance News is a compilation of some of the previous weeks interesting trade compliance, anti-bribery/corruption, fraud, and due diligence news bites, from around the world.

Governance Is the Next Target for Abenomics | The Wall Street Journal

"A wave of corporate scandals and Japan's persistently weak inflation are renewing pressure to improve the way the country's businesses are managed." (Click here for the article) - Japan

Corruption scandal hits Huawei with its top executive suspected of bribery | technode

"The excecutive vice president of Huawei's consumer business group Greater China, Teng Hongfei, has been taken away by the public security, according to people familiar with the matter." (Click here for the article) - China

Ex-Tennessee director of football ops to repay $14K due to forged receipts | Yahoo Sports

"Tennessee's former director of football operations is repaying the school over $14,000 after he pleaded guilty to misconduct regarding forged receipts for expense reports." (Click here for the article) - United States

Non-compliance to be 'very costly' for companies | moneycontrol

"Sending out a strong message to (Indian) corporates, the government has said non-compliance will be "very costly" and strong deterrents will be there to curb the dangerous adventure of using companies for wrongful purposes." (Click here for the article) - India

Argentine Congress Approves New Corruption Law

On Wednesday, November 8, 2017 the Argentine Congress approved a new law to combat corporate corruption.  The passage of this law follows the arrests of two Argentine politicians on corruption charges.

The law applies to private legal entities and covers the following crimes:

  • Local or international bribery and influence peddling
  • Illegal payments to public officials
  • Illegal enrichment of public officers and employees
  • Falsifying balance sheets and reports to conceal bribery or influence peddling

Companies are liable for the above crimes whether they are committed directly or indirectly on their behalf.  A corporation may also be held liable for the actions of third parties acting on their behalf.   

The bill allows for:

  • Courts to fine companies up to five times more than the amount fraudulently obtained
  • Companies to be blacklisted from public contracts for up to 10 years
  • The lessening of a corporations punishment for self-reporting a crime discovered by an internal compliance program, the existence of a sufficient compliance program prior to the violation, entering into a collaboration agreement, among other factors       

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Canada Repeals Facilitation Payments Exception

     On October 30, 2017 the Government of Canada announced the facilitation payments exception, contained within the Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act (CFPOA), has now been removed.  Bill S-14 repealed the exception and went into force on October 31, 2017.

     The CFPOA defined facilitation payments as follows:

  • "For the purpose of subsection (1), a payment is not a loan, reward, advantage or benefit to obtain or retain an advantage in the course of business, if it is made to expedite or secure the performance by a foreign public official of any act of a routine nature that is part of the foreign public official’s duties or functions, including:
    • the issuance of a permit, licence or other document to qualify a person to do business;

    • the processing of official documents, such as visas and work permits;

    • the provision of services normally offered to the public, such as mail pick-up and delivery, telecommunication services and power and water supply; and

    • the provision of services normally provided as required, such as police protection, loading and unloading of cargo, the protection of perishable products or commodities from deterioration or the scheduling of inspections related to contract performance or transit of goods."

     Contact GCSG professionals at info@globalcompliancesg.com with any questions or for more information on how we can assist you with your compliance program.  Visit our website at http://www.globalcompliancesg.com to learn more about our products and services.   

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Agencies from seven countries join forces against corruption

On July 5, 2017 the UK's National Crime Agency (NCA) announced the establishment of the International Anti-Corruption Coordination Centre (IACCC), based in London.  The UK's NCA will host the IACCC until 2021. 

The IACCC's initial membership includes agencies from Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Singapore, the UK and the United States.  The purpose of the centre is to improve the existing cooperation between member countries corruption enforcement agencies. 

"There is no doubt that the world's major economies are abused by corrupt leaders.  We have a responsibility to guard against that abuse, limit the damage it causes to countries already battling poverty, and pursue the individuals who put self-interest above the welfare of citizens.  This is the first law enforcement partnership specifically coordinating the global response to grand corruption.  We know from our experience the value that dedicated centres for collaboration bring to successful international law enforcement action and we will use all our combined expertise to tackle the most complex and devastating cases of corruption." (1) - Donald Toon, NCA Director of Economic Crime          

The centre should improve the sharing of information and resources, between the participating agencies, and enhance the process of enforcing global anti-corruption laws.  However, because the trend of cooperation between participating agencies has already been growing for years, the centre is likely to have less of an impact than the NCA announcement alludes.

For this effort to truly fulfill its goals, and have the impact the IACCC seeks, the list of participating agencies from non-Western countries will need to grow.       

IACCC participating agencies:

  • Australian Federal Police
  • New Zealand's Serious Fraud Office
  • New Zealand Police
  • Canadian Mounted Police
  • Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau of the Republic of Singapore
  • National Crime Agency
  • Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)

Agencies with plans to join the IACCC:

  • Interpol
  • US Department of Homeland Security (DHS)
  • US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)
  • US Homeland Security Investigations (HSI)

IACCC observer nations:

  • Switzerland
  • Germany

Contact GCSG experts at info@globalcompliancesg.com with any questions or for more information on how we can assist you with your compliance program.  Visit our website at www.globalcompliancesg.com to learn more about our products and services

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US Supreme Court limits the SEC to 5-year disgorgement remedy

On Monday, June 5th, the U.S. Supreme Court, in a 9-0 ruling (Kokesh v. SEC), limited the Securities and Exchange Commission's ability to obtain profits from a defendant.  The ruling found that the SEC's "disgorgement" remedy is subject to a five-year statute of limitations.  In 2013, the Supreme Court also ruled (Gabelli v. SEC) that civil monetary penalties are subject to a five-year limitation.

Background

The SEC brought an enforcement action against Charles Kokesh in which they alleged he had violated various securities laws.  The allegation claimed Kokesh violated SEC laws by misappropriating $34.9 million from four businesses from 1995-2009.  As a result the SEC sought civil penalties and a $34.9 million disgorgement. 

A jury found that the defendant had in fact violated securities laws.  The District Court applied the 5-year limitation to the civil penalty, but found that the $34.9 million disgorgement was not a "penalty" and not subject to a five year statute of limitation.  The Tenth Circuit agreed with the District Court and held that disgorgement was neither a penalty nor a forfeiture.

Ruling

Justice Sotomayer, writing for the unanimous Court said the following:

"Because SEC disgorgement operates as a penalty under §2462, any claim for disgorgement in an SEC enforcement action must be commenced within five years of the date the claim accured."; and

"The application of these principles here readily demonstrates that SEC disgorgement constitutes a penalty within the meaning of §2462.  First, SEC disgorgement is imposed by the courts as a consequence for violating public laws...Second, SEC disgorgement is imposed for punitive purposes."

Consequences

The ruling provides a little more clarity for companies as to what disgorgement amounts they may have to pay if found guilty of violating a securities law.  As a result of this ruling, the SEC is likely to move more quickly to bring cases to a conclusion.      

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