FCPA, Code of Conduct – The Cornerstone of a Compliance Program

The cornerstone of a Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) compliance program is the US Federal Sentencing Guidelines (FSG). They contain seven (7) basic compliance elements that can be tailored to fit the needs and financial realities of any given organization. From these seven compliance elements the Department of Justice (DOJ) has crafted its minimum best practices compliance program which is now attached to every Deferred Prosecution Agreement (DPA) and Non-Prosecution Agreement (NPA). The FSG assumes that every effective compliance and ethics program begins with a written standard of conduct; i.e. a Code of Conduct. What should be in this “written standard of conduct? The starting point, as per the FSG, reads as follows:

Element 1

Standards of Conduct, Policies and Procedures (a Code of Conduct)

An organization should have an established set of compliance standards and procedures. These standards should not be a “paper only” document, but a living document that promotes organizational culture that encourages “ethical conduct” and a commitment to compliance with applicable regulations and laws.

In each DPA and NPA over the past 18 months the DOJ has said the following as item No. 1 for a minimum best practices compliance program.

1. Code of Conduct. A Company should develop and promulgate a clearly articulated and visible corporate policy against violations of the FCPA, including its anti-bribery, books and records, and internal controls provisions, and other applicable foreign law counterparts (collectively, the “anti-corruption laws”), which policy shall be memorialized in a written compliance code.

In an article in the SCCE Complete Compliance and Ethics Manual, 2nd Ed ...

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