Compliance Communications Blog

The First Step Toward FCPA Compliance: Stop FCPA Training Employees


Stop Training FCPA ComplianceOK, don’t flip out. I don’t mean that the way it sounds; I just said it that way so you’d read my blog which you’re doing. So you have to admit that it worked.

But, in another sense, I mean it quite literally. Here’s why: the other day, I saw yet another basic training presentation about the FCPA designed to educate employees about bribery. The presentation included the following sorts of facts:

  • The FCPA was signed into Law in 1977
  • Who enforces the FCPA? 
    • DOJ is a criminal law enforcement agency and it enforces the Antibribery provisions and willful violations of the books and internal controls provisions.
    • SEC is a civil law enforcement agency, and can bring civil charges for violations of the Antibribery provisions as well as the books & records and internal controls provisions.
  • In 1997, the US signed the OECD convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions.
  • Around 40 countries have adopted the OECD Convention.
  • The UK Bribery Act, in addition to prohibiting the bribery of Foreign Public Officials for the purpose of obtaining or retaining business, also prohibits commercial bribery. It further prohibits facilitation payments.

I looked around the room at the employees receiving this training. I felt I could read their minds. To the above points, they seemed to be quietly responding:

  • Who cares?
  • Who cares?
    • Who cares?
    • Who cares?
  • Who cares?
  • Who cares?

The answer to that question (“Who cares?”) is that only the presenter cared. He had an hour on the agenda, but really,there were about 7 minutes of relatable substance in the whole presentation. That substance boiled down to these key thoughts:

  • Never give a bribe in any business context no matter what – unless you truly believe that your physical safety is compromised.
  • No matter where in the world you are doing business, some government has jurisdiction over you and over us, and if you give a bribe you and we can get in really serious trouble.
  • People go to jail for giving bribes, and companies have been fined millions (and even – like Siemens – billions) of dollars.
  • Examples of bribes include…

When you consider just how much seat time (both classroom training and elearning) has been devoted to piling on facts about the legislative and enforcement landscape in compliance – and this same point holds, of course, in the area of Fair Competition, Privacy, etc. – the sum of hours is just staggering. And if it's content about which employees (whose behavior we want to impact) are inclined to say “Who cares?”, then that adds up to something much worse than mere wasted time.


COMPLIANCE COMMUNICATIONS TIP:  Stop training employees on the FCPA, the UK Bribery Act, the Brazilian “Clean Companies Act,” etc.  Employees don’t care. Train them on what a bribe is and what happens if you give one. Stop training employees on the Sherman Anti-trust Act, EU Competition Law, Chinese & Russian anti-monopoly laws, etc. Employees don’t care. Train them on what anti-competitive practices are and what happens if you engage in them. Stop training employees on… You get the point.

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