One area not often considered by the CCO as a key part of any compliance regime is the Corporate Controller. The Controller generally has the responsibility to accurately record and report the financial transactions of the company, to design, implement and execute the financial processes and controls of the company to be both effective and efficient, and to safeguard the financial assets of the company. Some of the compliance responsibilities of the Controller include: 1) Designing and implementing internal controls that impact ethics and compliance risks; 2) Accurately recording the financial transactions of the company; and 3) Preventing and detecting fraudulent activity. All of this means, in practical terms the Controller is both being the keeper of the books and records and the implementer of internal controls. Moreover, while many of these internal controls would most probably be viewed financial internal controls, there are additional internal controls which are not financial in nature.
Russ Berland, Chief Integrity & Risk Officer at Aventiv Technologies, has noted, “Those guys live really in the battle zone. They are constantly looking at financial transactions. They’re evaluating them. They’re figuring out where things go within the books and records. They are implementing the processes that should be keeping fraud from happening; keeping bribery and corruption from happening.”
These benefits are not a one-way street for compliance as a Controller benefits from a closer relationship with the corporate compliance function as well. They can leverage compliance resources. The compliance function can bring its observations and insights from investigations and emerging risks to the Controller. A closer collaboration will broaden awareness of compliance risks which relate to the company’s financial processes. By more fully integrating compliance into the Controller function a more robust picture of enterprise risk emerges, one which encompasses legal, compliance, ethics, internal controls, financial, business and governance risks.
Three key takeaways:
- CCOs need to integrate the function of the Controller into their compliance regime.
- Offshore payments must be flagged for further investigations.
- The Controller is both the keeper of the books and records and the implementer of internal controls.