A Compliance Director pleads guilty to cover up corruption. Is this what shareholders and CEOs want?
To clarify, this is not limited to the pharma industry, as recent scandals in other industries show lack of compliance, despite having large and well–staffed compliance and internal audit departments.
I was in a similar role some years ago when my manager asked me to cover up a false statement. I declined the invitation, only to suffer the most outrageous witch-hunt ever. Even today there is an image of myself as a problematic person, i.e. a whistleblower, a term that has been devalued to now mean troublemaker.
As I explain in this article above, I simply followed the agreed internal escalation procedure, as per my internal audit responsibilities, to raise genuine concerns to senior management on issues that I had identified that could seriously damage the company’s reputation and cause serious risks to the company operations and the customers. I also gave recommendations on how to rectify them. However, I ended up defending myself in tribunals on my own.
If the first lines of defence against corruption and fraud in corporations (i.e.: Internal Audit and Compliance departments) can end up in tribunals either because they did not cover the wrongdoings or because they did (albeit this is uncommon), are we really serious when we say we want to tackle corruption?
My question to all shareholders, investors, CEOs, business owners, recruiters, HR departments, society overall:
Do you prefer a Compliance Director that bends to the fraud and corruption and covers it up, or do you prefer a naïve? brave, (I still believe one has to have b….to stand up in front of fraud- for the avoidance of doubt I always spell b for bravo,….feel free to use your own spell), honest and high-minded professional? By the way, we end up calling this professional whistleblower or troublemaker.
So my question again is: what do we want? The first lines of defence lining up with the corrupt and fraudsters, or the brave “troublemakers”?
If so, what are we really supporting with our actions?