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  Р20% 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)

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?

How well do you know your Partners and 3rd Parties?


Reading through the Mike Volkov and Tom Fox blogs certainly provides food-for-thought around FCPA violations and infringements. Mike is holding a webinar next week to talk about FCPA with respect to Private Equity and Hedge Funds, in particular when such companies are considering international mergers or acquisitions; Tom talks about whether FCPA scrutiny revolves around the oil and gas company because of the places where they operate or the ‘cowboy tradition’ of the industry.

These articles got me thinking about the partners and 3rd parties that such companies contract with to conduct business in countries like Russia, China and Mexico. My question for companies with significant international operations is simply “How well do you really know your Partners and 3rd Parties?” I posed a similar question in my blog last month, but the point is worth repeating.

Most companies it seems, who are expanding their international businesses or looking at potential M&A activity, do a pretty good job at the front end – ie the due diligence stage. Vetting partners, 3rd party relationships, etc. The problem is that business relationships are not static – they change and evolve. Personnel changes, from sales to research and development teams to supply chain partners. With these changes, so does ‘who we do business with’ and more importantly ‘how business is conducted’.

At Catelas we are not advocating that companies need to monitor every business relationship every minute of the day, but we certainly recommend regular check-ups (or assessments). For example, a company might be have expanded its business operations into South America. Well it would not hurt to conduct a business partner / 3rd party assessment after 1 year to examine what those business relationships look like. Or a major pharma company conducting clinical trials in Indonesia may find it makes sound business sense to identify the key relationships that exist between the company, partners, 3rd parties and hospitals, six month into those trials.

As this picture shows, these 360 degree assessment need not be a massive, expensive investigation in-country. Nor is it a major audit of the company’s financials and partnership contracts. Rather they are designed to be a non-obtrusive examination of how¬† business is really being done on a day-to-day basis – ‘who is talking to who’, and ‘what are the key business relationships in place’. It provides first and foremost ‘peace of mind’ that the company is conducting business ethically. But if red flags are raised as a result of the assessment, then it provides a process for undertaking a more detailed examination.

And hence the MRI analogy we have used before – the Catelas 360 degree assessment provides an MRI into your foreign business operations – answering the question “How well do you know your 3rd parties?”. To learn more take a look here or give us a call. I would love to hear your views.