One of the key responses by U.S. businesses to the upsurge in FCPA enforcement beginning in 2004 and continuing up to this day has been what The Man From FCPA terms a business response to a legal issue. Put another way, U.S. businesses have moved from facile paper compliance programs under anti-corruption laws such as the FCPA and U.K. Bribery Act to doing compliance. This business response has provided a legal defense to allegations of FCPA violations and made companies operate in a more efficient, integrated approach to the scourge of global corruption. Now we see companies in other countries going through an increase in bribery and corruption enforcement take this approach.
Reports now show companies in Brazil are taking this approach in response to the country’s more aggressive enforcement against endemic corruption in commercial businesses. This is partly in response to the allegations and investigations brought forward by Operation Car Wash and the attendant Odebrecht anti-corruption enforcement action. Jorge Abrahão, president of Brazil’s Ethos Institute, a corporate social responsibility organization said “We are witnessing a big change in Brazil—there is an understanding in society now that whoever doesn’t take the issues of corruption and transparency seriously will not have a place in the market in the future.
There has been a large rise in the hiring of corporate compliance specialists, chief compliance officers and the creation of corporate compliance programs. Moreover, companies are now requiring those entities which wish to do business with and through them to also have functioning compliance programs. Recruiters have noted a dramatic rise in the hiring of compliance professionals. Luís Fernando Martins, a director in Brazil of Hays, “said the recruitment firm saw a rise of around 20-25 percent in demand for compliance professionals since last year.” Foreign companies operating in Brazil have also started taking compliance issues more seriously after these events and in response to Brazilian companies demand for greater compliance.
While it is usually legal enforcement which drives compliance; it is the business response around doing compliance which drives implementation.