This article first appeared in Diario Gestión, Peru, on October 03, 2018.

The only positive aspect of cases such as Lava Jato or Los Cuellos Blancos del Puerto, a criminal gang allegedly composed of high-ranking officials of the Judiciary, is that it has forced the Peruvian authorities to increase the sense of urgency in the fight against corruption.

This year there have been several initiatives in this regard: the administrative responsibility law came into force, a National Integrity and Anti-Corruption Plan were launched, and recently corruption among private individuals has been criminalized, Peru being the first country in the region to punish it.

This not only represents challenges for the public sector, but also the private sector. The aforementioned initiatives generate incentives for companies to establish compliance systems. These can be a tool that guarantees the integrity of companies, but also if they are not diligently executed or supervised, they can become a dead letter, a useless document drawn up to comply with a standard.

In this sense, the greatest challenge is to generate a culture of compliance. And this will hardly be achieved by confirming compliance plans to a company department. Even less so, when reality demands results and, erroneously, disguises the relaxation of established ethical codes as pragmatism.

It is therefore essential for companies to incorporate goals and integrity into the evaluation of their results, a task that falls to the board of directors and management. This, in the long term, will allow them to generate the best conditions to operate and, above all, to reduce the possibility of fines or sanctions that may cause economic damage to the companies or even bankruptcy.

Cases such as Volkswagen, which now has to pay billions of dollars for lying in the diesel evaluations of its cars, or the hard financial problems that companies in the construction sector have had as a result of their participation in the Lava Jato case, show the importance of placing how the objectives are achieved at the same level as the latter. And in this case, although it may seem a paradox, the form will matter much more than the substance.

By: Susana Sierra