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The new corporate compliance program at Airbus

Posted by Indrajit Palit | Feb 10, 2020

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Over the last decade, governmental enforcement agencies have been on an aggressive drive to enforce FCPA compliance regulations. Keeping up with the trend, this year, Airbus, entered into a $4 billion global settlement of bribery-related charges with U.S., French, and UK prosecutors. In the United States, a  deferred prosecution agreement with the DOJ imposed a criminal penalty of $2.09 billion — the biggest FCPA enforcement action ever.

As part of their deal, Airbus agreed to commit to continuing to enhance its compliance program and internal controls as part of its deal with the Department of Justice under the Corporate Compliance Program added in the agreement. Here are some of the key points of the program that Airbus would be required to adhere to:

Policies and Procedures

Airbus would be required to develop and promulgate a clearly articulated and visible corporate policy against FCPA and other foreign law counterparts, which policy shall be memorialized in a written compliance code.

It will have to develop and promulgate compliance policies and procedures designed to reduce violations of anti-corruption laws, export control laws, and company compliance code.

It will take appropriate measures to encourage and support the observance of ethics and compliance policies against violation of anti-corruption laws and export control laws by personnel at all levels of the company.

The anti-corruption and export control compliance policies will apply to all directors, officers, and employees, and where necessary and appropriate, to outside parties acting on behalf of the company in foreign jurisdictions, including but not limited to, agents and intermediaries, consultants, representatives, distributors, teaming partners, contractors, suppliers, consortia and joint venture partners.

Policies and procedures shall address, among other topics:

  • Gifts
  • Hospitality and entertainment expenses
  • Customer travel
  • Political contributions
  • Charitable donations and sponsorships
  • Facilitation payments
  • Solicitation and extortion
  • ITAR Registration requirements
  • ITAR notification requirements
  • ITAR prohibited countries

It will ensure that the company has a system of financial and accounting procedures, including a system of internal controls, reasonably designed to ensure the maintenance of fair and accurate books, records, and accounts.

Periodic Risk-Based review

Airbus would have to develop these compliance policies and procedures on the basis of a periodic risk assessment addressing the individual circumstances of the company, in particular, the foreign bribery and export control risks faced by the company in different geographies, interactions with politically exposed people, industrial sectors of operations, joint ventures, licenses, government oversight and volume of good and personnel clearing through customs and immigration.

The organization would have to review its policies on an annual basis and update them accordingly to ensure their effectiveness taking into relevant new developments in the industry and evolving international standards.

Proper oversight and independence

Airbus will assign responsibility to one or more senior corporate executives of the company for implementation and oversight of the company's anti-corruption compliance and export compliance code, policies, and procedures. Such corporate officials would have an adequate level of autonomy from management as well as sufficient resources and authority to maintain such autonomy.

Training and Guidance

Airbus would have to implement mechanisms designed to ensure that the anti-corruption and export codes, policies, and procedures are effectively communicated to all directors, officers, and employees of the company. These mechanisms would have to include proper training for the employees who are in a position of leadership or trust, positions that require such training or positions that are susceptible to corruption, and corresponding certification at the completion of the training.

They will also have to establish or maintain an effective system to provide guidance and advice to directors, officers, and employees or any outside representatives on complying with the company's anti-corruption and export control laws.

Internal Reporting and Investigation

Airbus would have to design and implement internal mechanisms for confidential reporting of any violation of anti-corruption or export control laws by all directors, officers, and employees of the company or any representative third party.

They will have to establish or maintain, an effective and reliable process with sufficient resources for responding to, investigating, and documenting allegations of violation of anti-corruption or export control codes, policies, and procedures.

Enforcement and Discipline

Airbus will have design mechanisms to effectively enforce it's compliance codes, policies, and procedures, including appropriately incentivizing compliance and disciplining violations.

The company will have to institute disciplinary procedures to address violations that would be applied consistently and fairly. They would not discriminate among employee ranks or perceived importance. They would have to design procedures, which would ensure misconduct is discovered, reasonable steps are taken to remedy the misconduct and appropriate steps are taken to avoid the same situation in the future. 

Monitoring and Testing

Airbus would conduct periodic reviews and testing of its anti-corruption and export control codes, policies, and procedures designed to evaluate and improve their effectiveness in preventing and detecting violations taking into consideration recent developments in the field and evolving international standards.


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