Christian Perez Font, Managing Director of Thinkeen Legal, specializes in using data to help clients do traditional legal tasks. The legal department is a business support function, he tells host Tom Fox. He is licensed as an attorney in Venezuela and the USA, and opened Thinkeen Legal in 2018 to provide his clients with “business advice with legal content”, particularly in corporate, transactional, and compliance matters. In this episode of the ESG Report, Christian chats with Tom about how ESG impacts the healthcare, energy, and the M&A space.
Healthcare Compliance & ESG
Many healthcare companies donate to community initiatives and are often asked to contribute to social responsibility efforts. However, the healthcare space has specific compliance regulations, such as the anti-kickback statute which prohibits payment for referrals. These regulations are being enforced more strictly. How you set up your compliance program is so important, Christian tells Tom. You should have policies and separate structures for dealing with charitable contributions so that they can be audited and the data analyzed. He describes how he helps clients formulate an ESG program that incorporates modern concepts.
Energy Compliance & ESG
Tom remarks on Venezuela’s social responsibility requirement for energy companies that was in place long before ESG became a trend. It was one of the first countries to mandate such measures, Christian agrees; the aim was for international companies to contribute to local communities. Personally, Christian does not like these mandates: he prefers companies to contribute voluntarily because it’s the right thing to do and because they want to get involved. “My philosophy in compliance has always been that we need to move the needle from compliance to ethics, where we do the right thing not because we’re obligated to do it, but because we think it’s the right thing to do,” he comments.
Tom asks, “How do we do this in the ESG, and then how do we document and report it to those ESG stakeholders who might be interested?” There’s no clear answer about who is best qualified to lead ESG in an organization, Christian responds, but somebody needs to do it. “Somebody needs to be tracking what the company’s doing in terms of ESG and not only tracking, but helping visualize it so that everybody can understand…”
M&A & ESG
“Are you beginning to have discussions with clients about looking at testing or performing due diligence on ESG components of [M&A] targets?” Tom asks Christian. ESG is becoming a bigger part of the conversation, especially with younger investors, Christian responds. Your reputation as a business will play a big part in whether you can attract investors. They also want to see your commitment to social responsibility, governance, and transparency, all of which are ESG issues.
Christian Perez Font on LinkedIn