Corporate compliance programs aim to make sure a company obeys laws and regulations. One problem with compliance — companies can sometimes make more breaking the rules than following them. And they are complicated. So, they mount compliance programs for show and look the other way. That’s where whistleblowers come in. Or go out. Some internal reporting programs work against whistleblowers, so insiders choose to report wrongdoing to a government agency or the press.

And when they do, companies are sometimes forced to assess the efficacy of their compliance programs.  At Danske Bank, the cost of doing so may lead to layoffs. Bank employees are being offered buy-outs, with managers of the international bank citing rising compliance costs. From Bloomberg.

 Danske Bank A/S is offering 2,000 of its employees in Denmark the option of stepping down as the cost of adapting to a world with stricter regulations and negative interest rates just keeps growing…

Danske has acknowledged its costs are still rising, following a vast Estonian dirty-money scandal. In an interview in Stockholm, the chief executive of Danske in Sweden, Johanna Norberg, said “the peak” level of investment to meet anti-money laundering requirements has “not yet been reached.”
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Corporate ComplianceOriginally published at Corporate Compliance Insights on November 19, 2018 by Guest Columnist Donna Boehme.  

Donna Boehme, the “Lion of Compliance,” comments on Novartis as a new “rock star” on the corporate compliance landscape, observing that the company has elevated its approach to compliance, culture and trust to best practice “Compliance 2.0” status – first, with its 2014 appointment of an independent and empowered CECO with true compliance SME (earned in the field) and now, with the elevation of the role to include all management risk functions and with a seat on the executive management team. She also notes as best practice the company’s establishment of a new bonus system that links bonuses to ethical leadership behavior, a feature many leading companies have yet to achieve.
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people-walking-inside-buildingToday, we expect Wall Street to be as much a part of the community as Main Street. For corporations with social responsibility commitments and investor groups with social responsibility mandates, whistleblowers are a crucial force for compliance. Whistleblowers ensure that businesses play by the rules, including those that they’ve set for themselves, as part of their social responsibility commitments. As the number of whistleblower claims rise, both in quality and scope, the potential impact of these cases on socially responsible investing, and on companies committed to and impacted by such frameworks, needs to be placed in the spotlight.

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Washington, D.C. November 28, 2017. Rejecting arguments by Senator Charles Grassley, the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) and numerous representatives from the whistleblower community, during today’s oral argument in Digital Realty Trust v. Somers (No. 16-1276), the U.S. Supreme Court Justices expressed support for stripping internal whistleblowers of protection under the Dodd-Frank Act (“DFA”).

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This term the U.S. Supreme Court will decide Digital Realty Trust v. Somers (Digital), one of the most important whistleblower cases to come before the Court in 20-years.   The Chamber of Commerce and its Wall Street allies want to strip all employees who report securities frauds internally to their compliance departments or managers from protection under the Dodd-Frank Act’s (DFA) whistleblower law.
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Corporate whistleblower protection “undermined” if internal complaints not protected.

Washington, D.C. June 26, 2017.  The U.S. Supreme Court granted certiorari today in the case of Digital Realty Trust, Inc. v. Somers, Paul.  The Court will decide the issue of whether internal reports to managers are covered under the Dodd-Frank Act’s anti-retaliation law.
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Corporate Attack on Internal Whistleblowers Rebutted

In an article published on June 22, 2017,  by Law360, Stephen M. Kohn, executive director of the National Whistleblower Center (NWC) and partner in the whistleblower rights law firm of Kohn, Kohn and Colapinto, revealed previously unknown information regarding the legislative history of the anti-retaliation language in the Dodd-Frank Act (Dodd-Frank).  A controversy exists regarding these provisions which has resulted in a split in the U.S. Courts of Appeal interpreting the scope of protected activity. 
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Today, the National Whistleblower Center rallied support from its network of supporters across the country to defend the False Claims Act from proposals made before the House Judiciary Committee to cripple the law’s protections for whistleblowers. The False Claims Act is considered the most effective tool to prevent fraud on government contractors and protect taxpayer dollars. Over 42 billion dollars has been recovered from government contract fraud through False Claims Act whistleblower cases since 1986.

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Originally published at Corporate Compliance Insights on June 3, 2014 by Guest Columnist Donna Boehme.  

Recently I’ve had a few epiphanies about corporate whistleblowers (are we ever going to find a better term for this?), and the most striking is this:

Many are accidental.

My month of whistleblower observations includes (i) a striking column by a former JPMorgan executive, “5 Terrible Things I Learned as a Corporate Whistleblower”1, (ii) a visit in the North York Moors to the home of the former head of risk for the UK’s HBOS bank and (iii) a fascinating keynote session with the former CEO of Japan’s Olympus Corporation at the recent Society of Corporate Compliance and Ethics (SCCE) European conference in London.
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Originally published at Corporate Counsel on March 17, 2015.

The bulk of 2014 was a milestone year for the compliance and ethics field, marking the demise of the failed “Compliance 1.0” model (compliance as a captive arm of the legal function) and the rise of “Compliance 2.0” (compliance freed from the legal department and positioned for success). Some big developments—such as the now standard separation of compliance from legal in the health care industry, and similar momentum in big banks after a series of record-breaking settlements involving LIBOR rate fixing, mortgage fraud and money laundering—have led to some (now prophetic) media headlines including “Legal Losing Its Grip Over Risk and Compliance,” “Ethics and Compliance Moving Out of the Law Department” and “Report: More Companies Splitting Legal and Compliance.” Several industry surveys have mirrored this momentum.

A careful observer will have noted three key events from 2014 that can be categorized as “nails in the coffin” for the decades-old, fatally flawed Compliance 1.0 model:
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