• Senior management and corporate officers.


  • Having robust compliance programs in place, especially with respect to anti-corruption and trade practices has never been more important.


  • Ensure that internal compliance policies and training are in place and continually updated.

Globalisation presents an attractive opportunity for growth for all businesses. With more Australian companies seeking to engage in multi-jurisdictional transactions, particularly in the United States, it is prudent to be aware of the importance of having robust compliance policies in place to promote risk minimisation and avoid significant financial and reputational damage that you could be exposed to.

The breadth of "international business obligations" continues to grow and compliance frameworks need to deal with:

  • anti-bribery
  • anti-money laundering
  • anti-trust laws
  • climate change
  • corruption
  • fraud
  • human rights
  • international trade and investment laws
  • privacy
  • sanctions
  • slavery, and
  • trafficking

Earlier this year, the United States Department of Justice Antitrust Division (DOJ AD) hosted a roundtable discussion which focused on the importance of a better recognition of compliance programs. Following these discussions, the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) published a toolkit for small and medium size businesses with the aim of giving companies practical steps they can take to embed successful compliance policies.

Credible and appropriate compliance systems have many benefits. Importantly, they enhance reputation, promote strong organisational culture, increase risk awareness and lead to early detection and prevention of issues. The ICC toolkit suggests that the most critical success factor to establish effective compliance culture is to tone from the top – that is, senior management displaying a clear commitment to doing the right thing. Additionally, reviewing and updating compliance policies and controls is necessary to reflect the changing landscape and regulatory frameworks and highlight the companies' commitment to take positive steps to avoid damaging penalties and enforcement action by regulators.

Importantly, in some jurisdictions, regulators consider the implementation of effective compliance programs favourably and take these into account during sentencing. The initiative of the DOJ AD to host discussions earlier this year suggests that the United States is willing to reconsider its position on compliance programs by giving such programs credit when sentencing. Other regulators, including the United Kingdom Competition and Markets Authority and the Canadian Competition Bureau already offer sentencing reductions for corporate compliance programs.

McCullough Robertson can assist in implementing appropriate compliance infrastructure to ensure you are well positioned if something does happen. We deliver the full spectrum of advice from audits, investigations and delivery of training programs to defending enforcement proceedings. Our approach is practical and commercial and tailored to your business.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.