As far back as 2004, in Opinion Release 04-02, the DOJ realized this was an important part of an overall compliance program when it approved a proposed compliance program that had the following requirement, “Clearly articulated procedures which ensure that discretionary authority is not delegated to persons who the company knows have a propensity to engage in illegal or improper activities.” One tool that is often overlooked in the hiring process is the reference check. Many practitioners feel that a reference is not of value because prospective candidates will only list references that they believe will provide glowing recommendations of character. This leads to a pro forma reference check.

The hiring of someone who will perform business activities in compliance with anti-corruption laws such as the FCPA will continue to be as much art as science because the hiring of quality employees for senior management positions is similarly situated. But that does not mean a company cannot work to not hire those persons who might have a propensity to engage in bribery and corruption if the situation presented itself. The hiring process is just one more tool that can be utilized to build an effective and operationalized compliance program.

Three key takeaways:

  1. The hiring process is the first step in operationalizing your compliance program.
  2. The DOJ spoke to hiring as part of a best practices compliance program as far back as 2004.
  3. Reference checks are an underutilized part of the hiring process and a key internal HR control.