The role of the CCO has steadily grown in stature and prestige over the years. In the 2012 FCPA Guidance, under Hallmark Three of the Ten Hallmarks of an Effective Compliance Program, it focused on the whether the CCO held senior management status and had a direct reporting line to the Board; stating:

In appraising a compliance program, DOJ and SEC also consider whether a company has assigned responsibility for the oversight and implementation of a company’s compliance program to one or more specific senior executives within an organization. Those individuals must have appropriate authority within the organization, adequate autonomy from management, and sufficient resources to ensure that the company’s compliance program is implemented effectively. Adequate autonomy generally includes direct access to an organization’s governing authority, such as the board of directors and committees of the board of directors.

This Hallmark was significantly expanded in both the 2019 Guidance and the FCPA Corporate Enforcement Policy. And in so doing, the DOJ has increased the prestige, authority and role of both the CCO and corporate compliance function. The 2019 Guidance has four general areas of inquiry around the CCO and corporate compliance function. (1) How does the CCO salary and stature within the organization compare to other senior executives within the company. (2) What are the experience and stature of the CCO with an organization? Does the CCO have appropriate training for the role? (3) How much autonomy does the CCO have to report to the Board of Directors? How often do the CCO meet with directors?  Are members of the senior management present for these meetings with the Board of Directors or of the Audit Committee? (4) Is the compliance function run by a designated chief compliance officer, or another executive within the company, and does that person have other roles within the company?

Three key takeaways:

  1. How can you show the CCO really has a seat at the senior executive table?
  2. What are the professional qualifications of your CCO?
  3. Does your CCO have true independence to report directly to the Board of Directors?