Practical insights for compliance and ethics professionals and commentary on the intersection of compliance and culture.

Top 10 FCPA Resolutions

The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) is a United States federal law which addresses accounting transparency and bribery of foreign officials. The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) are both responsible for FCPA enforcement – the SEC, for those companies under its regulatory jurisdiction, and the DOJ, for all other companies.  This enforcement famously leads to large settlement payments by offending companies, the resolution of which is often reached by collaboration among numerous governments and supervisory entities.

The ten largest FCPA resolutions as of the writing of this blog post are listed below, with links to more information and business case studies on each.


Corporate takedowns: Theranos

This is the second post in a series of four posts about corporate takedowns.  Last week’s post was about American Apparel.  Today’s post is about Theranos.  The third post on April 17 is about Facebook, focused on the recent Cambridge Analytica data sharing revelations.  The fourth and final post, on April 24, will discuss Gawker.

For an in-depth discussion of the corporate history and culture of Theranos, check out this post.

A variety of business ethics and cultural practices contributed to the failures at Theranos both as an enterprise and in fraudulent representations made by its founder and CEO, Elizabeth Holmes, to investors and the public.


Compliance and risk

As the compliance profession continues to mature, a cross-functional, integrated approach emerges as the most productive and effective operating model.  Compliance officers must continually seek to present themselves as partners to and promoters of the work of other functions – including legal, HR, sustainability, communications, and many more.  Compliance programs should strive to be powerful sparring partners and sources of important subject matter expertise that are willing to work together to give the business the most value for its controls framework.  The alternative – being seen as potential hindrances to progress or wallflowers that prefer to come only when they are called – must be avoided at all costs.

One of the most important partners for compliance in this capacity is the risk function.  It’s extremely important to have a healthy cooperation across the functional line between risk and compliance and to establish a respectful and enthusiastic system of knowledge sharing and collaboration, both internally as well as in facing the business.

Below are some important considerations for compliance programs to incorporate in aligning with risk.


This week on Compliance Culture

Be sure to visit Compliance Culture this week for posts on these topics.

  • Monday:  Compliance and risk
  • Tuesday:  Corporate takedowns: Theranos
  • Wednesday:  FCPA top 10 judgments
  • Thursday:  Compliance and ethics of online platforms: Reddit
  • Friday:  Privacy expectations and technological innovations

Don’t miss it!


Round-up on compliance issues with online platforms: Snapchat

This is the fifth in a series of six posts on compliance issues with various online platforms.  The first post was about YouTube.  The second post was about Facebook.  The fourth post discussed Instagram.  Last week’s post was about Twitter.  Today’s post will cover Snapchat.  The sixth and final post in the series, on April 12, will be about Reddit.

Snapchat is an app-based photo and video messaging service.  Upon its initial release in 2011, Snapchat grew quickly in popularity due to its novel feature which allowed users to share messages that then disappeared.  This concept evolved from a person-to-person design to then include a chronological timeline of stories and content sponsored by brands, media groups, and influencers.


Kamala Harris and false choices in ethical decision-making

Kamala Harris is the junior United States Senator from California and was previously the Attorney General of California and the District Attorney of San Francisco. Throughout her career as a prosecutor and now legislator, Harris has been well-known for her advocacy of restorative justice initiatives and her progressive engagement with a wide variety of social issues.

In speeches and interviews, Harris frequently rejects simple interpretations of her record and urges people to consider more nuanced views on political and cultural topics rather than seeing various interests or goals as mutually exclusive or conflicting when they actually could be aligned. On this subject, Harris often refers to advice she received from her mother: “Reject false choices.”


Corporate takedowns: American Apparel

This is the first post in a series of four posts about corporate takedowns.  Today’s post is about American Apparel.  Next Tuesday’s post is about Theranos.  The third post on April 17 is about Facebook, focused on the recent Cambridge Analytica data sharing revelations.  The fourth and final post, on April 24, will discuss Gawker.

American Apparel was once one of the largest apparel companies in North America.  Founded in 1989, at its peak in the early 2010s the company had over 250 locations.  It was widely-known for its provocative, attention-grabbing advertisements and trendy yet utilitarian clothing.

However, after several years of not operating profitably and dogged by controversy courted by its founder, Dov Charney, and his attendant legal troubles, American Apparel filed for bankruptcy in 2015 and in 2017 was sold to the Canadian apparel company Gildan Activewear.  While the company’s manufacturing operations and headquarters were once based in Los Angeles, American Apparel is now an online-only retailer and makes most of its clothing, which is still touted as ethically-produced, in international locations.


Happy Easter – and a look at the second book of Mere Christianity

Happy Easter from Compliance Culture!

In honor of the holiday, please check out the below extracts from the seminal work of C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, which are especially pertinent to ethics and morality.  For commentary on the first book of Mere Christianity, check out this post.  The below post contains selections from the second book of Mere Christianity.

Book II of Mere Christianity, “What Christians Believe,” explains the points which were persuasive to Lewis as he turned away from atheism and toward Christian devotion.  Lewis reckons with this personal transformation through logic and by seeking to make the abstract and unknowable both concrete and comprehensible where possible while relevant if not fully within the reach of human understanding.