We previously considered the Prong in the Evaluation that was not present in the Ten Hallmarks of an Effective Compliance Program; that being root cause analysis. The requirement was first raised in the 2017 Evaluation. It was then carried forward as a requirement in the FCPA Corporate Enforcement Policy, later in 2017. It was discussed again in the 2019 Guidance.

You should begin with the question of who should perform the remediation; should it be an investigator or an investigative team which were a part of the root cause analysis? Jonathan Marks, believes the key is both “independence and objectivity.” It may be that an investigator or investigative team is a subject matter expert and “therefore more qualified to get that particular recourse”. Yet to perform the remediation, the key is to integrate the information developed from the root cause analysis into the solution.

Marks further noted that the company may also have deficiencies in internal controls. More importantly, the failure to remediate gaps in internal controls “provides the opportunity for additional errors or misconduct to occur, and thus could damage the company’s credibility with regulators” by allowing the same or similar conduct to reoccur. Finally, with both the 2019 Guidance and FCPA Corporate Enforcement Policy, the DOJ has added its voice to prior SEC statements that regulators “will focus on what steps the company took upon learning of the misconduct, whether the company immediately stopped the misconduct, and what new and more effective internal controls or procedures the company has adopted or plans to adopt to prevent a recurrence.

Three key takeaways:

  1. The key is objectivity and independence.
  2. The critical element is how did you use the information you developed in the root cause analysis?
  3. The key is that after you have identified the causes of problems, consider the solutions that can be implemented by developing a logical approach, using data that already exists in the organization.