Hui Chen’s position has been listed to fill on the Department of Justice Website, so it appears her contract at the compliance counsel will not be renewed. Chen’s tenure as the Compliance Counsel has helped to raise the profile of the chief compliance officer within corporations and the corporate compliance discipline more generally. Obviously, the Justice Department has long emphasized the role of both the CCO and compliance function, but after Chen became the compliance counsel, there were two significant changes in the discussion regarding those roles.
The first was in discussions with the Justice Department. Prior to Chen’s arrival, such both negotiations and substantive discussions with the Department were usually handled through outside counsel. With Chen in the room, these meeting began to include substantive discussions with CCOs about the robustness of their company’s compliance programs both at the time of the incident giving rise to the potential FCPA allegations and the state of the remediation engaged in by the company during the pendency of the investigation. This put the CCO and the corporate compliance program not only at the table but with a detailed analysis of where a compliance program had been, what fixes had been put in place and how the program would continue to be a best practices program going forward.
The second area was to focus on the professionalism of not only a CCO but also the members of the compliance team. The prime example comes from the 2016 FCPA Pilot Program, which stated under the section on remediation:
Whether the company dedicates sufficient resources to the compliance function;
The quality and experience of the compliance personnel such that they can understand and identify the transactions identified as posing a potential risk;
How a company's compliance personnel are compensated and promoted compared to other employees;
Once again, while these three inquiries had been alluded to in prior Justice Department speeches and information, these clear articulations put the CCO and compliance function front and center in the corporate hierarchy. From The Man From FCPA and the greater compliance community to Hui Chen, tip of the (compliance) hat for a job well-done.