A Recap of the 2012 Global Ethics Summit

On March 15th and 16th, the Ethisphere Institute and Thomson Reuters teamed up to host the 4th annual Global Ethics Summit in New York. Attended by CEOs, Board Chairs, GRC leaders, and government and regulatory officials, the event offered critical and timely insight into the challenges compliance and ethics professionals face while navigating an increasingly complex and daunting global legal landscape.

2012 Summit – Thomson Reuters/Ethisphere

Every year companies face new challenges in developing and adopting “best practices” in their ethics and compliance policies as new and important laws are enacted around the world, and as prosecutors continue to enforce formerly dormant laws with increasing regularity and aggression.

Perhaps above all is the FCPA, a law that is enforced more frequently every year.  Although popular opinion is that the DOJ faced a setback in its enforcement of the FCPA—specifically with U.S. District Judge Richard Leon’s decision to dismiss the recent high profile FCPA sting case against weapons sellers—there should be no allusion that attention to or enforcement of the FCPA will decline. The DOJ continues to publicly commit to maintaining a strong anti-corruption presence worldwide, and continues to review a record number of open and ongoing FCPA investigations this year.

With that increased presence comes increased attention by companies susceptible to the law.  From all the attention that the FCPA receives from the regulatory community, a debate began between companies and other stakeholders on clarity of the law, recently stretching as far as the editorial pages of the Washington Post and other major media, curious to get a sense of what’s next.  The same can be said for antitrust/cartel, IP protection and supply chain laws.  The question that the best companies ask becomes not only how can you prepare a proper defense against enforcement of these laws within your organization, but how can you actively develop a culture that prevents any violations from occurring in the first place?

This year’s 2012 Global Ethics Summit, the latest in the annual event co-hosted by Ethisphere and Thomson Reuters, helped answer this question by discussing today’s regulatory challenges, sharing best practices in ethics and compliance, and providing critical insight in legal developments around the world.  The discussions at the Summit were lead by some of the most respected and well-known general counsel, in-house counsel and other senior executives at the best companies, as well as senior regulators, academics and other key thought leaders in the ethics and compliance community.

Hundreds of ethics and compliance professionals, along with other senior executives of multinational companies, came together to hear their peers discuss these important issues. The Summit kicked off on Thursday, March 15th with Brackett Denniston, General Counsel of General Electric discussing the global compliance issue his company faces, and concluded on Friday, March 16th with a conversation between Assistant Attorney General of the Criminal Division Lanny Breuer and Ethisphere’s Executive Director Alex Brigham.  The two discussed the future of the FCPA and other developments coming from the DOJ in the coming years.  During the evening of March 15th, Ethisphere hosted the 2012 World’s Most Ethical Companies dinner in which the 2012 WME winners were publicly announced, along with a keynote presentation from former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and a presentation by the renowned Chicago improve comedy troupe Second City.

To read more about the Global Ethics Summit, please visit the event’s website at www.globalethicssummit2012.com or by going to www.insights.ethisphere.com.