How many rules are too many? How complicated are the rules to follow? There were a couple of the questions posed in a recent Wall Street Journal article on the rules of golf.  The article discussed a shot by Jordan Spieth in the recent PGA Championship that landed on a cart path and where Speith “spent nearly 10 minutes consulting with a rules official about his options for relief under Decision 24-2b/1, which exists to further explain the 474-word text known as Rule 24-2b.” The article went on to ask “Does golf really need to be this complicated?”

The Man From FCPA considered this question in the context of complying with the FCPA. Fortunately, the answer in FCPA compliance is quite simple—do not pay bribes. While this simple solution is certainly elegant, it is not always easy. A company must actually want to create a compliance program around this simple solution. This is because a compliance program does more than simply not pay bribes. As noted in the Justice Department/SEC 2012 FCPA Guidance, an effective compliance program should prevent, detect and remediate compliance failures.

Indeed the role of any chief compliance officer or a cimpliance practitioner is broader than to simply interpret the rules. The role of a compliance professional is to stop, find, and fix problems rather than simply protect the company, the purview of the general counsel’s office. Moreover, the ‘rules’ around compliance are well-known and laid out in a straight-orward manner in FCPA Guidance, as set out in the Ten Hallmarks of an Effective Compliance Program.

It is not the requirement that a company cannot pay bribes or the lack of clear rules around implementing a best practices compliance program which gets companies into FCPA hot water. It is that at some point they made a decision not to have a compliance program in place so unlike golf, there is no need to rewrite the rules. Fortunately for companies the rules only need to be implemented. 

Continue the conversation at Compliance Week Europe: 7-8 November at the Crowne Plaza Brussels. Join us as we look at changes in global anti-corruption regulations, slave labour risks in your supply chain, and how to detect fraud, to name just a few topics. Learn more