This article first appeared in El Libero on october 18, 2015
It was with regret that we learned a few weeks ago that, according to the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention, Chile is ranked among the countries with little or no enforcement of the Convention, i.e., that little effort has been made to combat bribery of persons abroad. In addition, according to the report, 22 of the 41 countries that make up the group have failed to investigate cases of corruption abroad during the last four years, not fulfilling their obligations to combat international bribery.
With the results of the international organization insight, I believe it is urgent to improve the standards of protection against economic crimes in Chilean companies, and for this, it is essential to know the industry sectors most prone to fall into crimes, as well as the most exposed areas of the companies.
The reason? The law says that in Chile companies are criminally responsible for crimes committed by their employees, so they have to make models to prevent these crimes and certify them.
However, the industries most exposed to committing economic crimes are the construction, financial, insurance, mining, retail, industry, and, in general, companies that do business abroad.
Here, most of the dangers are associated with the area of payments and outflows of money from the firm, since if there is no exhaustive control over the rendering of expenses, for example, or the purpose for which the money goes out, it is easy to fall into bad practices. From this area, risks arise in the area of Procurement and Purchasing of the company, Donations, Issuance of invoices, Hiring, Human Resources, and Customers, among others.
All the measures that a firm can implement have to do with protecting the company. A first measure that can be quite efficient is to implement training and have a well-developed human resources area. Employees should be aware of the crimes and instill the responsibility to report when they see bad practices. An important point to implement this is to incorporate the prevention model in employment contracts, thus binding the employee and forcing him not to commit infractions.
It is also essential to have a clear supplier policy. Knowing which suppliers I choose and efficient control of payments. Another recommendation for large companies is to have a robust compensation policy, to avoid the risk that the money is financing illegalities, such as terrorism, through misinformation about what the communities being helped are doing: having authorizations, maximum compensation amounts, due diligence on who the beneficiary is, etc.
With the implementation of some of these measures, companies could avoid being judged under the law of criminal liability of legal persons, which establishes sanctions such as the prohibition to enter into contracts with the State, the dissolution of the legal personality of the firm, loss of tax benefits, fines close to 20,000 UTM, publication of the crime in national media, among others.
However, and despite the existence of the law, the challenges for companies go much further: the real goal is to achieve companies that have internalized good practices, and conscious employees who feel identified with the same ethical line.
By Susana Sierra