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FCPA Blog Daily News

« Beyond Balance II: Rediscovering the FCPA’s Original Purpose | Main | Beyond Balance: Reframing the FCPA Reform Debate »
Wednesday
Jan252012

Busting Graft For Profit

Michael Hershman, left, president of The Fairfax Group, helps public and private sector clients integrate core principles of social responsibility into their everyday practices.

In a 2010 talk to law students at Pepperdine University, Hershman described an instructive experience he had at Siemens AG in the late nineties:

They asked me to come in and talk about how they could do business going forward…I met with 20 of their top executives, and I gave what I thought was a rousing lecture for two hours…At the end, I asked for questions. There were none. Of the 20 people seated around that table, half went to jail.

After the Siemens bribery scandal broke, the company appointed Hershman to assist in the creation of its anti-corruption program.

The Virginia-based Fairfax Group has a network of staff and contacts that extends to more than ninety countries.

In addition to taking a direct role in influencing public policy, Hershman believes that pressure from for-profit institutions can be crucial to defeating corruption. He said,

Corporations are better positioned to deal with corruption than governments, particularly publicly listed multinationals. They have lots of checks and balances that should prevent corruption. When we bring multinationals together with other private sector companies to work in collaboration, we can start putting pressure on governments to help lower their risk of corruption.

Hershman’s CV includes work as a counterterrorism agent with U.S. Military Intelligence in the late 1960s, as well as a senior staff investigator for the Senate Watergate Committee. Immediately prior to founding The Fairfax Group in 1983, Hershman served as deputy auditor general for the Foreign Assistance Program of the U.S. Agency for International Development (AID).

His public-sector work continues today. In 2011, he traveled to Malaysia four times to supervise the implementation of groundbreaking initiatives such as an online database of corruption offenders and new whistleblower-protection legislation.

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Benjamin Kessler is an editor and writer for Ethics 360. He can be contacted here.

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This post is part of our series profiling global compliance leaders. Most appear on our sponsor Ethisphere’s annual list of the 100 Most Influential People in Business Ethics.

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