Examples of relevant questions connected to the cases and examples in the Case studies (see menu).
It is not illegal to use agents in international business?
No, but the important thing is to make clear arrangements with the actual agent. In our opinion the most important matter is to have a clear and specific contract describing what the agent is supposed to do, how he is going to perform it and also very clear descriptions on unethical or illegal actions. The actual enterprise must be aware that this can be high risk situations, and therefore must take actions to prevent and also detect possible irregularities.
How is it possible to check the agents business track and background?
In our experience it is wise to spend some efforts in looking into possible references. In some countries it is possible to look into public registries etc. If you are not assured because of some unclarities, use more time to until you are certain.
What is important to have in a contract with an agent?
There are lot of possible standard contracts, but think in advance of possible risks for your enterprise and adress them specifically in the contract. Make sure the actual remuneration is detailed, and also that the tasks to be carried out by the agent are very clear.
Isn't it normally wise to follow advice or suggestions from local partners?
Yes, but some extra attention in the process is recommended. Based on i.e. the current corruption risk situation it can be necessary to do some background research on the possible new CFO, to make sure he/she is or has been involved in unethical business conduct.
Conflict of interest
Would our local officer’s interest in other local business activities be an asset to the JV?
Yes, it can be, but there is also a risk that other - and maybe more personal - business interests can overshadow the tasks as of the CFO of a JV. To avoid confilcts of interest, the CFO should under any circumstaces be obliged to be 100% open about other business interests.
Is it acceptable that the CFO has a personal interest in the JV by holding a minor interest in one of the smaler companies in the JV?
Normally, this is not recommendable as this can induce conflicts of interests. Being a CFO of the JV he/she should be instructed in selling this interest.
Is it acceptable that the CEO of a JV is active in the nomination of a new CFO?
To som extent yes. However, nomination of candidates for a CFO position of a JV should be done in close collaboration with all partners and in a thorough process.
Is it acceptable to engage old friends for director positions?
Such practise is normally seen as unprofessional and can induce business problems. Especially when there are indicators about business problems locally, even more care should be conducted in the recruiting process.
Gifts and invitations
Is it illegal to accept invitations and gifts?
That depends on the current situation, the value og the invitation, is this an open and transparent invitation, is this in line with company policy etc. Normally it is unfortunate to accept gifts/values especially under negotiating a major contract.
It is normal to mix business and pleasure?
To some extent yes, but this differ from one culture to another. Be open/transparent and eventually inform your superiors before accepting dubious advantages. It would also be fair to inform the business associate about the discussion with the superior and the outcome of this.
What is the limit? Where do I draw the line for receiving gifts/advantages for business associates?
Normally, this is determined in your company policy. However, if you are in doubt you will have to clarfy this with your superior/compliance manager/ethics officer.
If the negotiating differences is due to authorities or permissions, isnt' it wise to talk to the counterpart in order to have a common approach?To some extent yes, but the problem can lie in expectations from the local officer that he wants something extra in order to speed up the process. This is normally illegal. ”Petty” corruption is normally not illegal but a ”springboard” to heavier corruption and can harm your business reputation.
Should I accept success fees at any rate?
The higher the rate is, the more risky the business is. Normally it is very important to agree the success factors and clearly define on how the agent or consultant is expected to operate (cf. the company’s code of conduct)
Should I accept success fees to be paid to a tax haven?
This is normally not illegal. However, it gives a strong indication of a corrupt and illegal practice in general.
When do I notify my superiors about possible misconduct/irregularities or suspicions about such?
Depends on our agreement with the employer, but in general: the sooner the better. This also depends on the kind of misconduct and the risk involved and possible consequences for the company etc.
I hold some non-verified negative information about a business assosiate. Should I inform my superior?
The information ought to be verified in some way before giving further notice. However, all media speculation and other negative public information related to your company can and should be passed on to you superior.
If notification to superiors is done to late, what can be the possible consequences?
This depends on your employment agreement and your function in a company, but you might get fired and can even be liable for punishment and compensation claims. For your employer/the company the consquence can be dramatic depending on the circumstances.
When can I be anonymous?
Depends on local laws, but in many countries you have the possibility to be anonymous if you are giving information about irregularities/misconduct.
Does my employer have to guarantee my anonymity if I blow the whistle?
This will depend on the employment contract and local law, but it is more common that anonymity is guaranteed if this is wanted.
Can my boss fire me if I blow the whistle about possible misconduct/irregularities in the company?
Depends normally on elements such as: Have you tried to inform superiors first, the art of the irregularity and your motive for going public.
If an employee neglects to blow the whistle, are there any consequences for him/her?
Normally not, but if "any good citizen" would have blown the whistle, you might be critized and in some respects punished. This also depends on what you have tried to do internally.