Category Archives: News articles

U.S. Cracks Down on Corporate Bribes

 By DIONNE SEARCEY, Wall Street Journal

The Justice Department is increasing its prosecutions of alleged acts of foreign bribery by U.S. corporations, forcing them to take costly steps to defend against scrutiny.

The crackdown under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, or FCPA — a post-Watergate law largely dormant for decades — now extends across five continents and penetrates entire industries, including energy and medical devices. Among the companies currently under Justice Department review: Sun Microsystems Inc. and Royal Dutch Shell PLC, according to the companies’ disclosures.

The law prohibits U.S. companies from paying, or offering to pay, foreign-government officials or employees of state-owned companies to gain a business advantage. It covers nonmonetary gifts or offers in addition to cash payments, and is worded broadly enough that it’s spawning an army of consultants, some of whom once prosecuted bribery cases for the Justice Department, who offer to interpret the gray areas.

“When you have a law that can result in criminal sanctions and jail time and that you can violate without actually realizing you’re violating it, that’s terrifying,” said Alexandra Wrage, president of Trace International Inc., a Washington-based nonprofit specializing in antibribery compliance.

The gray areas of the law sometimes apply to actions — for example, the giving of seasonal gifts — that can be common in some countries. This has left corporations concerned about other practices, such as picking up the cost of trips or meals for foreign officials.

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Why We Hate HR

In 2005, the magazine Fast Company ran the article “Why We Hate HR” which, as you can probably guess from the title, delivered a virulent critique of the human resources industry.  Of course, it generated much debate and rebuttal from the HR world.  I share this because I have often said that many of the issues facing the HR industry are similar to ours.  As a member of SHRM, I get their industry publication and many of the concerns and issues in that magazine are ones we are familiar with – lack of budget, no “seat at the table,” etc.  Perhaps it is because we are both staff functions that are important to the business but not the core of the business.

I share this article with you not to make fun of HR, but as a cautionary tale for our own industry and profession.  While some of the criticisms in the article are specific to HR, many ring true for us.  For instance, have you ever heard the loss prevention function referred to as a “necessary evil”?  Well, then check out this article…

Archives Page Added

We’ve moved over the archives that we used to maintain on our corporate site to a new page here.  These are mainly links to news articles related to our industry from 2007 and 2008.  We checked to make sure all of the ones we moved over have current links as of today.