Compliance is a business imperative

If compliance is not a central pivot of your company, it should be. Compliance is respect for laws, regulations and ethics and plays a significant role in your company’s business decisions.

South Africa’s compliance caveats are multi -disciplinary – ranging from anti – corruption/anti-bribery, to limits on anti – competitive behaviour, consumer and data privacy, trade and customs, environmental, marketing, intellectual property including trade secrets, labour including human capital legal considerations as well as codes of conduct and gift/ amenities protocols . Add in regulations relating to anti – dumping to this plethora of compliance pivots and the knowledge curve requirement for lawyers leaps. Compliance requires a sound grasp of in-country and international laws as well as compliance codes and regulations.

For South Africa and South African companies as well as international companies operating in Africa, internationalisation and anti – corruption and anti – bribery compliance is serious. It also means a greater knowledge of the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act of 1977 , UK Bribery Act of 2010 and South Africa’s Prevention and Combatting of Corrupt Activities Act of 2003 – as well as a range of international, regional covenants and various in country legislation.

Without this grasp, lawyers, compliance and audit officers will find the terrain and issues difficult to identify. Practical ethics, meaning the application of ethics and in country and international terrain establishment do not need to clash: Companies need to understand – what effective referral/ facilitation is , why there are no carve outs in the UK Bribery act and what exactly is PACCA. Take a deep breath and tell your South African operation personnel outside of South Africa about PACCA’s extra – judicial outreach.

To clarify this further – South African based companies and their branch offices in Africa (and anywhere outside South Africa’s borders) engaging in illegal activities and bribery to secure and facilitate transactions and business will be held accountable in South Africa for such transgressions. PACCA also applies to Non -South Africans if they are found in South Africa. In simple language this means: if an action is deemed to be criminal under PACCA and it occurs outside South Africa –a South African Court will have jurisdiction even if the act does not constitute an offence in the foreign country.

Effective compliance systems and skilled teams ensure controls and advocacy awareness for company personnel. Secure and confidential whistleblower hotlines also add value to anti – corruption and anti – bribery efforts.

Openness to compliance and active conversations mean very simply that your company personnel will talk to your legal and compliance personnel. This creates a healthy dialogue and an opportunity to address what compliance is and how it practically affects businesses and its enforcement.

Compliance is on the radar and accountability is on the agenda. Compliance is law.

First published in Business Day, Business Law and Tax Review: 10 March 2014