Only five years ago, no one talked about self disclosing potential FCPA violations.
Today, a mere blink of an eye later, self disclosure is the norm.
In our era of hyper-enforcement and Sarbanes-Oxley driven field certifications, the new pattern is set:
Hear from a whistleblower about sensitive payments somewhere, take a quick look for credible evidence, inform the board, launch an internal investigation, disclose it to the DOJ, and write it up in the next quarterly SEC filing.
But is self disclosure a help or a hindrance?
It's more traumatic than sitting on a secret. But over time it's healthier for everyone.
Instead of letting infections fester, companies now move fast to disinfect the wound. Shareholders, employees, customers, suppliers, and lenders all know what's happening. And most important, executives are forced to confront the truth and deal with it.
Reminders of the old way of doing things came this week from Siemens and Rolls Royce. Siemens execs -- some long retired -- are dealing with allegations that may be at least ten-years old. The Rolls Royce story from Indonesia dates back twenty years or more. Ancient history.
But undisclosed FCPA sins cast long shadows.
If Siemens and Roll Royce had self reported decades ago, today's news about them and their people would be different.