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The Importance of an Effective Compliance and Ethics Program
Implementing an effective compliance and ethics program is essential to an organization's ability to self-monitor and, if appropriate, report discovered violations to government authorities.
The amendments provide organizations with important insights into how to create and implement an effective compliance and ethics program. In particular, the amendments reflect the Commission's confidence in independent and autonomous compliance officers who report directly to an organization's governing authority.
Grindler recently emphasized, "[t]hese amendments reinforce the point that having a robust compliance program is critical not only to preventing misconduct in the first place, but also [to] how your organization will be treated in the event criminal conduct does take place." Additionally, effective compliance and ethics programs may reduce exposure to liability if civil litigation occurs.
If an organization is convicted of a crime, its punishment under the FSGO can be lessened if it has an effective compliance and ethics program. The seven steps of an effective compliance and ethics program as defined by the FSGO (see Sidebar) allow an organization to police itself, and they provide CPAs with a framework for assessing these elements of corporate governance.
FSGO 2 states that high-level personnel must ensure that the organization has an effective compliance and ethics program. CPAs must determine if someone is responsible for such a compliance and ethics program.
An excellent way for CPAs to assess the compliance and ethics elements of corporate governance is to use the seven steps of an effective compliance and ethics program, as spelled out in the FSGO.
High-level personnel of the organization shall ensure that the organization has an effective compliance and ethics program.
requirement of an effective compliance and ethics program under section
effective compliance and ethics program, those responsible must now be
conduct inconsistent with an effective compliance and ethics program.
Effective compliance and ethics programs historically have not simply emerged from industry unguided by government.
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