Law Firms Should Be Required To Show Clients Evidence of Anti-Corruption Compliance
February 3, 2020
There is a widespread perception that lawyers are involved in the kinds of corruption that the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act prohibits, according to a survey of 642 legal professionals from 95 jurisdictions. Sofia Tirini, a lawyer working as Legal Consultant in the Anti-corruption division at the OECD in Paris, suggests that clients require their law firms to provide evidence of anti-corruption compliance and that the firms have established robust compliance programs. She recounts an interview she conducted in March 2019, with the former Business Ethics Coordinator of a major international law firm who said that no client had ever asked to see or read the firm’s compliance program. Tirini calls that odd, and notes that companies routinely require their suppliers to sign their ethic codes and prove they have implemented adequate measures to prevent corruption in their businesses, yet the same companies do not require anything similar from some of their highest-risk suppliers — their legal advisors. Without proper vetting and due diligence mechanisms, clients have no way to assess the presence of possible conflicts of interest, undue influence, and anti-corruption awareness, which leaves them at risk.
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