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Harry Cassin
Publisher and Editor

Andy Spalding
Senior Editor

Jessica Tillipman
Senior Editor

Bill Steinman
Senior Editor

Richard L. Cassin
Editor at Large

Elizabeth K. Spahn
Editor Emeritus

Cody Worthington
Contributing Editor

Julie DiMauro
Contributing Editor

Thomas Fox
Contributing Editor

Marc Alain Bohn
Contributing Editor

Bill Waite
Contributing Editor

Shruti J. Shah
Contributing Editor

Russell A. Stamets
Contributing Editor

Richard Bistrong
Contributing Editor

Eric Carlson
Contributing Editor

Benchmarking Alert: ExxonMobil’s long and detailed anti-bribery policy

The Texas-based oil and gas giant employs over 65,000 people and has refineries in 21 countries. At 18 pages, ExxonMobil’s anti-bribery policy is the second longest we’ve seen behind VW’s 36-page policy. How does it compare with those policies we’ve looked at in other benchmarking alerts?

1. No local law exception

The Company’s Anti-Corruption Policy prohibits anyone acting on behalf of the Company from offering or paying a bribe in any form in connection with the business or activities of the Company. The Company explicitly recognizes that even where the law may be permissive, ExxonMobil personnel must always choose the course of highest integrity.

2. Don’t be blind to agents’ actions.

Under some circumstances a company or a person may be liable for a payment made by a third party acting as an agent, intermediary, or otherwise on behalf of the company, such as a consultant, contractor, or joint venture participant acting on the company’s behalf, in dealing with a government official, even if the company or person did not actually know the payment would be made. For example, some anti-corruption laws may impose liability on the company for a payment made by a contractor acting on the company’s behalf merely based on a company employee’s awareness of facts that indicate a ”high probability” that the contractor will pass through all or part of a payment to a government official for an improper purpose. Failure to act when such warning signs are present may be interpreted as “willful blindness.”

3. Facilitating payments? It’s complicated.

The Company prohibits facilitating payments except in rare circumstances. Any proposal to make a facilitating payment must be endorsed by the Law Department in advance, and the Law Department endorsement will only be provided in circumstances in which the payment would be legal under all applicable laws. Similarly, contractors are required to comply with all applicable laws and are not authorized to make facilitating payments while carrying out work for the Company where prohibited by applicable law.

This is similar to Coca-Cola and Tesla, who might approve some facilitating payments. Unilever, Carlsberg, Apple, Novartis,  MicrosoftVolkswagenAirbusGM3M, and Pfizer all ban facilitating payments. Walmart doesn’t mention facilitating payments at all.

4. Proceed cautiously with charitable contributions.

Some examples of proposals for charitable contributions that should be reviewed with the Law Department are set out below.

– The Company is asked to contribute to a local foundation for underprivileged children, and the First Lady of the country is on the Board of Directors

– The Company proposes to provide scholarships to colleges in the United States for qualified high school students in a country in which the Company has business operations

5. The extortion defense. 

The Company prohibition on facilitating payments does not apply to payments that are made in the face of a threat to the health or safety of an employee. A demand by a government official for a payment that is accompanied by a physical threat is extortion, and a payment in this case would not be considered a facilitating payment. Nevertheless, such a payment should be reported to Management and the Law Department as soon as possible.

This is similar to UnileverCarlsbergGMMicrosoft, and Pfizer, the only other mentions of extortion we’ve seen.

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Click here to view the full ExxonMobil anti-bribery policy

View more anti-corruption policy benchmarks here.

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