Yesterday, Peter Binning chaired a panel discussion on Corporate Crime at Thomson Reuters Company Secretary Forum 2017. The panel of experts (Roger Burlingame – Kobre & Kim, Francis Kean – Willis Towers Watson and Tony Duthie – Forensic Risk Alliance) discussed a wide range of issues arising from the increasing focus on corporate crime by regulators and prosecutors.
Peter Binning began the session by outlining the growing willingness of prosecutors to pursue large corporations such as Rolls Royce while Roger Burlingame provided a transatlantic perspective, commenting that it remains to be seen whether the SFO will be able to instil the kind of obedience by corporates the US DOJ has been able to achieve. Francis Kean suggested that the SFO may seek to widen the “failure to prevent” model pioneered in the UK Bribery Act to all fraud – thus significantly increasing the compliance burden on corporates.
The panel also discussed the changing world of internal investigations and the starkly different rules governing legal professional privilege on both sides of the Atlantic and the increased cooperation between different national regulators and prosecutors.
A key theme throughout the discussion was the importance of separate and effective legal representation for individual directors and officers and the need to ensure that appropriate insurance is in place to provide it. In a snap pole (run on Thomson Reuters conference app), 62% of attendees said they would review their Directors and Officers insurance policy “tomorrow”.
The session ended with a reminder from Peter Binning that every individual and company is innocent until proven guilty and companies need not allow themselves to be bullied into cooperating with prosecutors by the threat of prosecution.