Why Strong Internal Compliance Programs Are Good Business
Does your business or organization have an internal compliance program, or should you have one?
Today, more companies, organizations and businesses are putting internal compliance programs in place – or improving and enhancing existing programs. There are many reasons to have a robust corporate compliance program.
State and federal government scrutiny and enforcement has escalated across many industries, with particular focus in recent years on financial crimes, health care fraud and corporate fraud. With state and federal budgets becoming more and more strained, regulators are vigilant about looking for individuals and companies that have overcharged or inaccurately billed the government for goods or services or have defrauded or misled the public or consumers – either intentionally or inadvertently.
In today's legal environment, the government's expectations of company management and boards of directors continue to evolve. C suite executives can in some circumstances be held personally responsible for conduct occurring in their organizations – even in some instances where they were not aware of the inappropriate conduct. The U.S. Sentencing Guidelines since 2010 have shifted responsibility to boards of directors or audit committees to understand and have oversight of the organization's compliance program. Under these guidelines, having an effective compliance program in place can be a mitigating factor considered by the government when considering whether to seek criminal charges.
With technology, transparency and information sharing reaching heights not anticipated in past decades, there are few "hidden issues." Employees, former employees and others feel empowered with knowledge and resources to report their concerns to the government. The "whistleblower industry" is thriving. New laws like Dodd Frank encourage whistleblowers to come forward and rewards them financially for doing so. With a compliance program in place, companies have policies to help mitigate risk and mechanisms to help identify issues and potential problems within the organization and fix them before a whistleblower brings action or government enforcement is initiated.
Last, but not least – it's good for business. Many customers seek out and want to do business with vendors and suppliers who share their values and compliance culture. Having a strong compliance program can be a valuable sales asset and help establish lasting and trusted business relationships.
Of course, there will be costs associated with starting or enhancing a compliance program. However, it is the experience of many companies that from a cost/benefit stand point, investing in compliance makes good business sense.
This publication is intended for general information purposes only and does not and is not intended to constitute legal advice. The reader must consult with legal counsel to determine how laws or decisions discussed herein apply to the reader's specific circumstances.