As the year draws to a close, it’s time to recall the biggest stories from the FCPA Blog. Here are my choices for the top five stories we’ve covered during 2022, along with some personal favorites for honorable mention.
#5. EY and KPMG cheating scandals expose ethical challenges for audit industry. Co-authors Caterina Bulgarella and Azish Filabi write about cheating on the CPA ethics exam and how patterns of behavior at audit firms “suggest a broader ethical challenge” in the audit and advisory industry. The authors write: “These failures raise a common question: why do otherwise ethical, good professionals risk their careers by cheating?”
#4. With new guidance and expertise, the DOJ mounts ‘compliance surge’. Co-authors Billy Jacobson and Claire Rajan’s post is a reminder that notwithstanding the recent Covid-induced enforcement lag, the DOJ’s FCPA teams are in position and fully armed for the fight against overseas graft. The post covers personnel moves and policy changes that will impact enforcement in the near term and beyond.
#3. Reassessing Ukraine’s ‘failed’ anti-corruption reforms. My post about Daria Kaleniuk, who fled Kyiv, where she served as executive director of the Anti-Corruption Action Center, and confronted British PM Boris Johnson at a news conference in Warsaw. She had warned before the invasion that Ukraine’s populist anti-corruption reforms panicked the Kremlin. “This is exactly what Russian President Vladimir Putin’s autocratic regime fears.”
#2. My time inside Novartis ERC is Harry Cassin’s long-form post about his extended visit with Novartis’ ethics, risk, and compliance group. From his arrival at the security gatehouse at Novartis HQ in Basel, Switzerland, we follow him deep inside the ERC group. We meet Klaus Moosmayer, Novartis’ ERC chief and “a compliance don,” and other global leaders of the team. Their conversations with Harry over the next three days are fascinating and deeply revealing about the complexities of today’s ERC programs.
#1. Glencore pays $700 million to resolve widespread FCPA offenses. It’s increasingly difficult for FCPA resolutions to crack the FCPA Blog’s top ten list, but the Switzerland-based mining and commodities giant Glencore plc did that in 2022. The feds said the company paid $100 million in bribes overall, and the long-running bribery “involved high-level employees and agents of the company.”
For honorable mention, a top pick of mine is Check your devices for Pegasus spyware. It’s Harry’s account of his close call with the zero-click spyware that can access everything on your device. “Journalists and activists, particularly those covering corruption, are favorite targets,” Harry said.
In Practical tips for resisting bribe demands, Alexandra Wrage provides much-needed and often neglected nuts and bolts advice to help employees sidestep improper requests. “The most effective techniques are practical, straightforward, and easy to remember,” she said.
The dangerous allure of being a corporate hero is Richard Bistrong’s reflection on former Goldman Sachs partner Tim Leissner, who testified at Roger Ng’s IMDB-related trial that he (Leissner) wanted to become a “hero” at the bank for bringing in billions in business. Leissner’s remark struck a painful chord with Richard. “I saw myself [during my business career] as a hero, delivering international sales growth while those other divisions were struggling,” he writes.
My post Is due diligence still due diligence? explores a baffling feature of the FTX, Theranos, and Madoff disasters: the presence of ultra-sophisticated investors whose due diligence apparently failed to reveal ridiculously visible red flags.
And finally, The European Court of Justice UBO ruling is a victory for controlled transparency, in which Martin Kenney discusses the landmark ruling striking down the EU’s mandate for public registers of ultimate beneficial owners. The ruling vindicated Martin’s long-standing (and sometimes unpopular) objections to public UBO registers on privacy grounds.