2020 was a very significant year for every compliance practitioner and compliance program. Not only was it the year with the single highest anti-bribery fine ever but there were significant enforcement actions, fines and penalties assessed against corporations coupled with a large number of individual prosecutions. Yet, perhaps most significantly, there were two noteworthy releases of information by the federal government which directly impacted compliance professionals. In June, the Department of Justice (DOJ) released its 2020 Update to the Evaluation of Corporate Compliance Programs – Guidance Document (2020 Evaluation) was released. It should be mandatory reading for every Chief Compliance Officer (CCO), compliance practitioner and professional or any other person interested in the latest thinking of the DOJ on what constitutes a best practices compliance program.

The second release was the DOJ and Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) released the updated A RESOURCE GUIDE TO THE U.S. FOREIGN CORRUPT PRACTICES ACT SECOND EDITION (2020 FCPA Resource Guide). This was a most welcomed update to the seminal and original FCPA Resource Guide, released in 2012 and widely recognized as the single best volume on the FCPA. Some of the key changes for the compliance professional include the following.

This clearly mandates that once an allegation or even suspicion comes to the attention of compliance, it must be properly triaged, your investigation protocol should kick in with a detailed and effective investigation that is completed in a reasonable time and provide a response to the investigative findings. Moreover, an investigation is not the ending point and should be followed with a robust root cause analysis.

The 2020 Resource Guide is a most welcomed document from the DOJ and SEC. It brings forward the top FCPA and compliance resource from the past decade into this decade. The 2020 Update continues the DOJ communication to the compliance community about its expectations for a best practices compliance program.

Three Key Takeaways

  1. The 2020 Update brings business intelligence to compliance.
  2. The key theme is continuous monitoring and continuous improvement.
  3. The 2020 FCPA Resource Guide emphasized the importance of root cause analysis.