Using tech to avoid trouble with Foreign Corrupt Practices Act
By David Simon and John Turlais
There’s no question technology is creating more efficiency and greater access to legal services.
Foley & Lardner’s Foley Global Risk Solutions project identified a market segment for legal services that we felt was being under-served: middle-market companies with international sales and operations – and thus significant Foreign Corrupt Practices Act risk – that may not have the internal resources to develop an effective anti-bribery compliance program.
The usual system of providing advice on an hourly basis just didn’t work for many of these companies. It produced high and unpredictable fees and resulted in advice and recommendations rather than a functioning compliance program.
Attempting to solve this problem for our clients, we knew we had to rely on technology to fulfill our promise of providing a real anti-bribery compliance program that would be designed to meet regulators’ expectations and that could be offered at a reasonable fixed price.
To that end, we built the Global Risk Solutions service, also known as GRS, on a cloud-based platform. This provides two significant benefits to our GRS clients.
First, it made entire anti-bribery programs – policies, procedures, risk-assessment results, training material and results, contract language, and access to legal advice – easily accessible to company employees who were exposed to Foreign Corrupt Practices Act risks.
Second, it ensured that compliance programs and all related activities are documented. This is absolutely critical, since, from regulators’ perspective, if a compliance action isn’t documented, it did not happen. In addition, a well-documented compliance program allows companies to report to and satisfy interested constituencies such as company directors or private equity owners who are worried about liability under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.
We learned that it was necessary to go beyond the rudimentary technology required to create and maintain the compliance platform. To deliver our service for a fixed annual subscription fee, we found that we needed to employ more advanced technology.
Two parts of the offering were particularly improvable through the use of technology: (1) our risk-assessment function; and (2) legal advice and counsel provided on specific Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and anti-bribery issues that arise in our clients’ normal course of operations. After researching the options, we decided to work with Neota Logic to develop these two applications.
David Simon is a founder and Managing Director of Foley GRS and a partner at Foley & Lardner; John Turlais is a founder and Deputy Managing Director of Foley GRS and special counsel and litigation lawyer at Foley & Lardner. Both specialize in FCPA and anti-bribery compliance, internal investigations and enforcement defense.