May 27, 2020

DOJ, SEC Offer Dialogue, Understanding as Enforcement Continues During Pandemic

Officials from the DOJ and SEC are encouraging companies to be open with enforcement authorities about the reasoning behind any hardships they are experiencing when cooperating with the government and maintaining compliance standards. At two recent panels, one sponsored by Ropes & Gray and one by ACI and C5, senior officials from the DOJ, SEC and FBI repeatedly stressed that the government is prepared to be reasonable about challenges during the pandemic. “Everyone is trying to do their best to be understanding and work with the companies and to make sure that we are not placing undue burdens on an already burdened society,” said Daniel Kahn, Senior Deputy Chief of the DOJ’s Fraud Section. We summarize the key takeaways from both panels. See “How Compliance Departments Are Responding to COVID‑19” (May 13, 2020).

The Fraud Triangle, Corruption and the COVID-19 Crisis

One of many unfortunate effects of the current COVID‑19 crisis is that it will lead to an increase in instances of fraud and corruption. Criminologists frequently reference “the Fraud Triangle” when describing the conditions generally necessary for fraud to occur, namely, 1) pressure to commit fraud, 2) rationalization by the fraudster justifying the decision to commit the fraud and 3) opportunity to commit the fraud. In a guest article, Morgan Heavener, a partner at Accuracy based in Paris, explains how the COVID-19 crisis is increasing the likelihood of all three factors in corporate workplaces and suggests three key strategies companies and governments can take to mitigate their fraud triangle risks. See “COVID-19 Economic Relief Packages Bring Fraud Risks” (Apr. 1, 2020).

Lessons From the First DOJ PPP Fraud Prosecutions

The federal government enacted the CARES Act, a $2‑trillion stimulus package, on March 27, 2020, to aid U.S. residents reeling from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. The implementation of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), one of the Act’s relief initiatives, has been in the spotlight due to concerns about borrowers’ eligibility and the risk of fraud. The DOJ has already begun to file charges against PPP fraudsters. In a guest article, Brian Hayes, a partner at Holland & Knight, highlights lessons learned thus far from the government’s prosecutions. See “COVID-19 Economic Relief Packages Bring Fraud Risks” (Apr. 1, 2020).

Silver Decision Clarifies Scope of “Official Acts” in Domestic Bribery Cases

In United States v. Silver, the Second Circuit clarified what constitutes bribery under several federal anti-bribery statutes and vacating conviction on three counts of bribery, finding that there was only a vague understanding that Silver would “think favorably” of the individual providing him with a benefit. In this article, Paul Tuchmann, a partner at Wiggin and Dana and former federal prosecutor, discusses the case law considered by the Court and the kind of behavior that may still be considered “official acts” under federal bribery law. See “Civil Litigation in the Aftermath of FCPA and U.K. Bribery Act Investigations” (May 13, 2020).

How to Facilitate a Safe and Privacy Compliant Return to Work: Policies and Protocols

Balancing health and safety concerns with data privacy and other legal considerations when bringing the workforce back into an office space can be overwhelming. In this article, we discuss how to facilitate a safe and privacy compliant return to work, with practical advice from Mastercard, Johnson Controls and outside privacy counsel on protocols for identifying and responding to symptomatic or sick employees, including six considerations for developing a policy. See “How Compliance Departments Are Responding to COVID‑19” (May 13, 2020).

How UniCredit Created a Compliance Ambassador Program

In a crisis like the current pandemic, legal and compliance need more than ever to be aware of business considerations so they can advise on new and emerging risks. Embedding compliance-minded employees in business functions can go a long way. At a recent SCCE webinar, Lara Bonora, head of group compliance indirect model, oversight and policies at UniCredit SpA, and Milica Karunc, also involved in compliance coverage oversight at UniCredit, described how the Italian bank selected, trained and motivated group managers to bring compliance messaging to their business groups, as compliance ambassadors. See “A Quick-Start Guide to Creating a Compliance Champion Program” (Mar. 06, 2019).

Booking.com Welcomes CCO

New chief compliance officer Femi Thomas will be based in Booking.com’s headquarters in Amsterdam. He joins from Nokia, where he was vice president and global head of ethics and compliance business integrity, based in London.

Three New Compliance Officers Join Ericsson

Stockholm-based telecommunications company Ericsson has hired compliance practitioners in three regions: Hayley Tozeksi, compliance counsel in Washington, D.C., Alexandra Dobrovolskaja, regional compliance officer for southern Europe based in Frankfurt, and Virginie Liautaud, head of compliance for France, Algeria, and Tunisia based in Paris. See “Lessons from Telecom Giant Ericsson’s Billion-Dollar Record-Setting Deal” (Jan. 8, 2020).