FCPA – coming to a mid-sized company near you! Thanks for the interview, Mike Volkov!


Having read blogs for close to 5 years now, I always look forward to this time of year when predictions are made. I tend to select my reading based on subject matter expertise and style, focusing on people I like and respect. I have also learned to leave the predictions to the experts rather than making my own!

Last week at Catelas we interviewed Mike Volkov to gain his insights into FCPA Compliance and try to get a sneak peak into 2012. If you have not already read his blog (here) I highly recommend that you do. We thought we would share a 3 minute audio clip of our interview with Mike,which covers many of the same topics, but reinforces the message through our auditory senses. I hope we played a small part in helping Mike compile his thoughts.

One key prediction that resonated with me was “FCPA coming to a mid-size company near you”. Okay, this is a play on words, but the gist was that FCPA enforcement will expand beyond large multi-national companies and into mid-size or smaller public companies. These companies, who for the large part I assume do not have the people or money resources to handle these types of inquiries, will need some help. Both in the form of advice from people like Mike Volkov but also in the form of “audits or assessments” of where to start and what to prioritize from companies like Catelas.

For example: Mid Size company  – 20% of their business (and growing) comes from China. Step 1 and Priority 1 is to understand how the company does business in China, in particular understanding the relationships it has with its Partners and 3rd Parties in China.

Our interview goes on to discuss how resource-sensitive companies can use Catelas in a very targeted and cost-effective way – ie pinpointing the relationships they have in high-risk FCPA countries where they do business that is of importance to them.

I hope you enjoy the audio clip. Feel free to contact me if you want to listen to the full webcast or discuss the topic in more detail.

Rob (robert.levey@catelas.com)

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Annual Performance Reviews – love or hate ’em ?


The time between Thanksgiving and the Holiday Season break is most typically when companies review their employees performance. Most everyone has their views on Annual Performance Reviews since we are all involved either as a reviewer or reviewee. I created the following poll on LinkedIn to gauge what people thought about the annual review process – take a look here. I was very surprised by the results.

The post today is not a lesson in Human Resource Management, but I do often think about how people in Compliance, Legal and Information Security are really reviewed in terms of their job performance. In sales its easy – how much did you sell?

The conversation for a Compliance Officer or a Chief Security Officer is more complicated – how many FCPA infractions did you investigate or how many security breaches did you uncover? These roles are about protection and prevention and for the most part the teams operate in stealth mode and are seen to be doing their best work when nothing bad is happening. So a good performance review is about “nothing bad happened or nothing bad was uncovered”. Right? Wrong!

The best Compliance or Security Officers are actually “looking for bad stuff”, they are not sitting back complacently believing that their fort is secure. The very fact that “bad stuff has not happened” is the very reason to look harder. They are pre-emptive or pro-active and their mantra is to “find bad stuff before it happens”. Lofty aspirations, perhaps?

So shouldn’t performance be [at least partly] measured on vigilance and awareness rather than simply policies, processes and how well a team reacts to bad stuff as and when it happens?

Believe it or not we come across the “don’t tell me what I don’t want to know” attitude everyday. Catelas has an ability to look inside the business and monitor, yes monitor, how business gets done. Or more accurately we visualize the communications patterns of a company to understand “who knows who” and “how well”. For compliance and security groups we are used as a monitoring solution to better understand company relationships – who in my company has relationships with X, where you can fill in the blank X to be competitor, press, government official, etc.

But my point is that for many companies we often have to water down the “monitoring” term because our audience (the Compliance or Security Officer) does not want to look deeper than the job dictates. They are not interested in pro-actively seeking out potentially bad stuff for fear of finding something. Sure I understand that these teams are max’ed out or are operating within the Risk Profile of their company, etc, but in this age of Whistle-blowers and Self-Reporting, I honestly believe that the CCO in particular needs to step out of his or her comfort zone and start being more proactive. Blind ignorance is no longer an excuse.

What do you think?

Are you concerned about Social Media litigation?


This article by Kate Hodgkiss about avoiding Social Media Lawsuits provides some common sense advice for companies navigating the potential pitfalls of what their employees say on Facebook, Twitter et al. Another one I read was by Stacy Gulik titled “Think Before You Tweet: Risks Health Care Professionals Face With Social Media”.  She talks about the risks that Doctors (and others) face when tweeting about medical information or their profession in general. Then there was this spoliation charge of $700,000 for the destruction of Facebook pages.

Virtually every business in the world should be concerned about what their employees are tweeting about or posting on Facebook as it relates to their business. And the litigation is certainly heating up.

I used to say to my employees “don’t write in an email what you don’t want your boss to read or what you would not want to be read back to you in court”. Well the same is becoming true of social media. Companies have to deal with social media whether they like it or not – with about a billion Facebook users, I think its a fair guess to say social media is here to stay and is rapidly infusing corporate life. From the Medical Doctor who blogs about “her day in the office” to the disgruntled employee who Facebook’s a picture of his company’s “crappy working conditions”.

This is not to say that we have to come up with brand new answers to these issues. Just like when office email first arrived, employees needed training and guidance – eg “never send an email when you are angry, or sleep on it”. What is different is that the current generation of employees has been brought up in a world of “one to everyone”, instant communications. When we hit the post or publish button, it’s gone instantly. There is no permanently delete button. And the message did not just go to internal employees, it went to the world. Someone has likely read it and saved a copy of what was said, before the individual has had a chance to erase the “mistake”.

Clearly for some companies this is a bigger concern than it is for others and every company will embrace social media slightly differently. Because the root of what we do at Catelas is about people and their relationships, how people are interacting on social media is of huge interest to us. Just as it is not possible to collect and review every document in a litigation case today, the proverbial haystack has just become exponentially larger with social media. It is never going to be practical to collect and review everything posted on the social media.  But if you can quickly isolate the people involved and limit the search to only those people that are relevant, then following their social media footprints, has just become a whole lot easier. Of course good corporate policies and employee education never hurts.

How is your company or your clients handling what its employees are saying on social media?

Dinner [and Pearls of Wisdom] with Tom Fox


It is not often that you can get time with someone like Tom Fox and pick his brain on FCPA and compliance issues. Eddie Cogan, the CEO and Founder of Catelas, was fortunate enough to sit down with Tom for dinner this week in Chicago at a World Compliance FCPA event. We  thought we would share some of Tom’s Pearls of Wisdom.

Q1: looking across the entire spectrum of FCPA violations what things stick out:

A:

  1. the continued increase in FCPA enforcement actions. It is not going away anytime soon.
  2. the DOJ is focusing industry by industry and we can definitely see their current focus on Pharma/medical devices and Private Equity; on top of the usual suspects. Now the DOJ seems to looking at aerospace and defense industries.
  3. finally I think we are seeing a greater focus on individual executive responsibility – a recently the President of Terra Telecom received  a sentence of 15 years

Q2: So what should a compliance officer do in the face of this scrutiny? Especially when such officers are sitting in offices very far removed  from the action:

A: well for starters not knowing is not a defense.  The DOJ have advised on what is a minimum best practice for compliance and most recently indicated “Enhanced Compliance Obligations”.  You need to incorporate these into your program.  If I were to focus on 3 things it would be 1) know your third parties, 2) training and 3) documentation, documentation, documentation.  The latter I repeat because its so important to be able to show the regulator when they come calling that your do have systems in place and that you do have a systematic reasonable approach to the task.

Q3: One of the things I am seeing more of recently is the concept of due diligence and ongoing audit programs.  That seems to be much more substantial than policy and training.

A: yes it is.  In the recent J&J case, we saw mention of obligations like “J&J will conduct due diligence reviews of sales intermediaries, including agents, consultants, representatives, distributors, and join venture partners” .  There is also a recognition that risk changes over time and that you need an ongoing program of review & audit in place.

Q4: What advice do you have for Compliance Officers trying to tackle this problem {of knowing your Partners} ?

  1. You need to fully assess, in writing, your overall risk parameters in a Risk Assessment. That is your starting point.
  2. Your due diligence should be based on the risk you assess for the third party.
  3. You should continue to perform and update your due diligence at greater than one year intervals, particularly if the risk profile has changed.
  4. Follow the DOJ enforcement actions and Opinion Releases for your best sources of information on the DOJ’s latest thinking on best practices.

The over-riding theme to the discussion was “know your partners” which is all well and good, but it is no trivial exercise. Large multi-nationals could typically have hundreds if not thousands of partners around the world; distributors who partner with 3rd party resellers or partners who sub-contract with local businesses. This can quickly and easily become a complex web of business relationships which is constantly evolving and changing. As Tom intimates, the only way to stay on top of it is to leverage technology, systems and documented processes so that company’s can more confidently say, “yes we know who our partners are” and “yes we know how business is being conducted”.

For more information about Catelas 360 degree Partner Assessments, look here.

Pharma’s in the cross-hairs – turning up the heat!


There seems to be a lot of heat in the Pharma compliance kitchens right now with a series of federal investigations and settlements. Stephanie Rabiner’s blog post summarizes the recent activity –  “Glaxo pays $3B fine, Pfizer paid $2.3 billion in 2009, while Eli paid $1.4 billion the same year. And Abbott Laboratories agreed to a $1.3 billion settlement in recent weeks.”

These cases center around fraud, off-label promotions and/or kickbacks and many go back over the last 10 years. Viewed holistically and considering the consumer suits that accompany these federal one’s, it is a very big deal. The Pharma Industry is certainly in the cross-hairs right now. And the heat is being turned up.

Another blogger, Richard Cassin, last month wrote about “a flock of Pharmas”, asking the question, was the Pharma industry simply prone to these types of investigations, given the business they are in?

The allegations being investigated are certainly broad – the illegal marketing of a number of drugs, de-frauding the Medicaid program, FCPA violations, to name a few. Is this the culmination of the big investigations or is this the tip of the ice-berg?

I also looked a little closer into the Pfizer case, started by a whistle-blower lawsuit. Turns out that the list of 10 whistle-blowers includes two former employees who had spent 24 years and 16 years respectively with Pfizer.  Long careers certainly, long memories, perhaps? This is not to say that the industry is inherently corrupt, but like the financial services industry, which was placed under massive scrutiny following Madoff, these types of investigations force every company in the industry to look in the mirror.

Given the revelations coming out of Penn State University this week, I would say that every Compliance Officer should be looking a little harder into their company’s Ethics programs to be sure that their company is not the next big Wall Street head-line.

Early Case Assessment and The Cloud


A few weeks ago I wrote about the Early Case Assessment Trap and today as I was following the goings-on at the annual ACC get-together, it reminded me of our legal industry buzz-words and how vendors constantly re-invent themselves around the latest buzz. No doubt this week “cloud” will be hot  and “ECA” will still be generating a lot of noise.

The way I see ECA being applied is that the C stands for Cost not Case. Opposing Counsels get together and agree the scope of discovery based on the anticipated cost of the “document hit count” arising out of the agreed keyword terms.

Now granted, this is an over-simplification of a complex legal process and sure ECA means many things to many people. But, what we are not seeing is good, honest work being done in the early stages of a case to truly understand things like, who is involved, what is the company risk or exposure, is their sufficient evidence, what action should we be taking?

“Early Cost/Case Assessment” can quite easily become a template for “how much is this going to cost us” and “can we settle for less”.

At Catelas, because of the “buzz-word effect” which tends to make all vendors appear equal, we have shied away from calling ourselves an Early Case Assessment solution, for this very reason. We prefer to be thought of as Early Case Intelligence, where we endeavor to answer these key questions – who is involved, what was said and what action should the company take? We are trying to provide real, upfront intelligence to the client that helps them make smart decisions about the case, going forward. At then end of the day, Counsel does not want to be surprised with a “gotcha” six months into the case. Our mission is to ensure that Counsel gets “One Step Ahead” by providing key intelligence about the case within the first couple of days.

So this year at the ACC Annual Meeting, Early Case Intelligence may not [yet] be an industry buzz-word, but watch this space…

If you want to find out more check out this preso

A new age of Whistle-Blowers


I read an interesting article last week by Joelle Scott about the “secret” whistle-blower at BNY Mellon. It turns out that Grant Wilson was the undercover whistle-blower who detailed how the bank had allegedly overcharged investors in their currency trades and defrauded investors for years.

This from the article… “So what is shocking about the BNY whistleblower is not that he exists but rather that he worked in conjunction with attorneys, regulators and fraud heroes to provide evidence for a massive lawsuit against his employer (the Justice Department and the NY Attorney General are seeking over $2billion from the bank).  This is almost as shocking as when the government used wiretaps to confirm and reveal the enormous insider-trading ring orchestrated by Raj Rajaratnam and his cohorts.”

In a shady world of fraud and corruption, law enforcement is to be applauded for making inroads by planting undercover agents into corporations or getting increased help from insiders.

But coming from the Information Security business, it does make me think about the people we work with that we take for granted on a day-to-day basis. Not if they are potential whistle-blowers, but the opposite. Are any of these colleagues working on the dark-side: do they have relationships with corrupt organizations, are they providing sensitive information to competitors? Do they have relationships that might be harmful to the company? Bar a cursory background check when an employee enters a company, the truth is, we really don’t know.

Worse, we only potentially find out once a crime has been committed, long after the horse has bolted from the stable.

And that is why Catelas is all about Relationships – it all comes down to ‘who you know’.

Voluntary Disclosure of FCPA violations


To disclose or not to disclose… that is the question. Definitely a thorny issue which Compliance Officers have to deal with. From my standpoint, I am seeing more voluntary disclosures hitting the press – here Maxwell and here Analogic, which is a good thing. Right?

Personal Disclosure – I have never been inside a Compliance Officer’s shoes when he or she is being chewed out by the CEO, so my opinion may not count for much. But what I have observed over the last few years being around corporate FCPA investigations is the following:-

1. We will investigate, prioritize and disclose potential violations that are brought to the Compliance Team’s attention:  what this means is that most companies have an investigation process in place and when they find something wrong and potentially serious, for the most part they will voluntarily disclose. Clearly, this begs the question what is “serious”, but most companies I would hope will not deliberately try to hide blatant stuff.

2. I don’t want to know what I don’t need to know: this is really about proactive monitoring or going out and finding potential violations. We work with a few companies in highly regulated industries where this is a must, but for most companies it is a step too far – ie I don’t want to uncover stuff that I don’t need to know about. This does not mean that these companies have blinders on, simply that they are doing what is necessary from a compliance and enterprise risk perspective. They feel they no not need to go the extra 9 yards.

3. Cover my backside principle:  this is about policies, processes, employee training, ‘walking the walk’, ‘top down approach’, etc. It’s what all good Compliance Teams do: they enforce and remind employees, partners, etc about good business practices. Often this is driven by past experiences – has the company been investigated by the authorities before, have they had whistle-blower incidents, etc?

4. Who is the target?  The company or the Executive: this is probably the one dynamic that has changed the most in the last 2 years. The charges are becoming personal, in that CEO’s (SEC charges CEO $20M in fraud case) or Compliance Officers are being charged for violations, resulting in possible jail time. No longer is it simply the company that stands to be charged.

Of course each company is different, but the underlying theme is reputation risk – enterprise and personal. Voluntary disclosure provides an avenue for ‘coming clean’, for putting some level of  ‘positive spin’ out of a bad situation and hopefully ultimately saving the company money in fines, etc. To all Compliance Officers – are you feeling the disclosure heat? Or is it still business as usual? I would love to hear your views.

What does an MRI and Enterprise Risk have in common?


Do you remember the days of X-rays when a GP would hide behind a screen and a huge puff of smoke would erupt from some weird-looking industrial type camera. Bygone days when surgeons operated with precious little knowledge about the patient’s condition. Risky business!

Today surgeons make use of sophisticated MRI’s, endoscopes and the like to perform key-hole surgery. Not only do they pinpoint the exact cause of the ailment before they operate, but the corrective procedures are conducted in a fraction of the time.

I use this MRI analogy for the work we are doing at Catelas. As I mentioned in my Gaping Hole in the EDRM post a week ago, what we do is provide Early Case Intelligence about a matter before the ‘operation’ of collection, processing and review takes place. Like a surgeon today, who would NOT conduct an MRI before operating on the patient?

Likewise, in the area of Compliance, specifically for Financial Services, we provide comprehensive surveillance of Information Barriers and Watch Lists. Because we can monitor an entire company’s communications patterns pro-actively, the company is leaving nothing to chance.

And just like a surgeon who knows how to read an MRI, we can immediately uncover enterprise risk that prompts the Compliance Officer to take further action.

My key point here about Enterprise Risk is that companies in many ways are operating like the surgeons of old – they do not have MRI’s to help them pinpoint precisely where the risks are. In eDiscovery or Compliance this is the role Catelas plays – helping you assess the risk before you start a widespread and costly collection and review operation.


How corrupt are your foreign business operations?


Welcome to the first of the Catelas blog posts. We have been working with companies on FCPA compliance for the past 3 years and continue to be astounded at just ‘how in the dark’ most Compliance Officers are with respect to their overseas business operations.

While the lure of doing business in countries like China, Russia and Indonesia is certainly great, the risks that come with it are equally so. Our experience is that most companies do a pretty good job at vetting potential partners, 3rd parties and individuals when they first enter a new country (through fairly rigorous background checks), but apart from re-inforcing policies and codes of conduct, that is pretty much where it ends.

The full-time, round the clock monitoring of these partners (or individuals) to uncover potential bribery or corruption is clearly cost-prohibitive and not usually practical. And most of the monitoring is focused on the financials, ie expense reports to try to uncover unreasonable or unwarranted spending.

That is why Catelas has approached the problem from a totally different perspective. If we could analyze the daily communications of a company (both inside and outside the company) and focus on those high-risk countries, partners and individuals, then we could uncover potential risks to the company, before potential FCPA infractions occur.

Tall order? Sure. And costly too? Perhaps. So we have developed a fast, effective and non-disruptive way to audit and report high-risk relationships, typically at 6 monthly intervals. Like an MRI, Catelas is able to provide Compliance Officers peace-of-mind with respect to potential FCPA violations. We identify ‘who is doing business with whom’, providing 360° profiles for companies to help them understand which countries, partners or individuals pose the highest risk based on the day-to-day communication patterns inside and outside the company.