It started when I read the New York Times piece by multiple reporters, “How a Massive Bomb Came Together in Beirut’s Port.” As I read it, I just got more and more agitated. Lebanon has been so completely broken down by corruption that it cannot provide basic safety or life protection for its citizens.
If you do not understand the insidiousness of corruption, take the 15 minutes to read the article and you will see almost every evil that arises from corruption. It is not simply taking an estimated $3 trillion out of the world’s economy, or in the case of Lebanon, about $2 billion annually in port revenues, taxes and fees. It is that corruption that has permeated every level and aspect of life, thereby destroying any hope of a democratic Lebanon.
Then I sat back and remembered the date: September 10. When I read the article, we were 19 years less a day from the anniversary of the worst terrorist attack in the history of the world. 9/11 was one of the shocks which brought the modern era of FCPA enforcement to life as it was quite clear the direct relationship from corruption to crime to terrorism. When people have no hope because on ingrained institutional corruption, they turn to terrorism.
Obviously, the lawyers at the DOJ led the charge on FCPA enforcement but compliance professionals also had and still have an extremely important role to play. Corporate compliance programs had been as legal written responses to increased FCPA enforcement but after the first five years or so of the first wave of increased enforcement, companies’ responses led the DOJ to move away from simply looking at the paper compliance programs to see if companies were actually doing compliance in their day-to-day operations. This led to the original 2012 edition of the FCPA Resource Guide, which formulated the original 10 Hallmarks of an Effective Compliance Program.
Of course, over this decade the DOJ has continued to lead the fight against corruption through its enforcement actions and pronouncements such as the 2017 Evaluation of Corporate Compliance Program, 2019 Evaluation of Corporate Compliance Programs, and 2020 Update. There was a much welcomed 2nd edition of the FCPA Resource Guide released in July 2020. All of these can draw their direct lineage back to 9/11 where the Bush Administration correctly saw the connection between corruption and terrorism.
Yet as compliance professionals, we all have a role to play in this fight. In every due diligence report, every GTE review, every interaction with a foreign government official, you are engaging in the fight against terrorism. I hope this day of all days you will realize the literal front-line role you have as a compliance professional in the fight against corruption and terrorism. Take pride in your work and what you do every day. And take a moment to silence to think about what happened to the United States some 19 years ago.