Compliance Bricks and Mortar for March 7

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These are some of the compliance-related stories that recently caught my attention.

Machiavelli for Chief Compliance Officers by Tom Fox in the FCPA Compliance and Ethics Blog

Lesson No. 1 – Heed Selected Advice from Selected Advisors

While in medieval Florence, the Prince ruled as the supreme monarch, he still needed advisors. Today, we are called subject matter experts (SMEs).

Two dubious ethical achievements by Jeffrey Kaplan in the Conflict of Interest Blog

First, a lengthy New York Times piece two days ago offered a “comprehensive examination” of the dealings of David Sampson, chairman of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and also a partner in the Wolff & Sampson law firm, with NJ Governor Chris Christie and his administration, both inside the Port Authority and out,  and detailed  ”the extent to which their ambitions and successes became intertwined.” The story concludes: “Mr. Samson and his law firm benefited financially. Mr. Christie benefited politically. And each enhanced the other’s stature as their relationship deepened in ways that were not apparent at the time.”

The SEC Has Never Prevailed In An FCPA Enforcement Action When Put To Its Ultimate Burden Of Proof by the FCPA Professor

This recent Wall Street Journal article highlighted how the SEC’s win rate at trials has slipped.  According to the article:

“[The SEC has] won 55% of its trials since October [2013], a sharp drop after three consecutive years when it prevailed more than 75% of the time.”

There has never been an SEC Foreign Corrupt Practices Act trial, but the above percentages are downright stellar when one considers that the SEC has never prevailed in an FCPA enforcement action when put to its ultimate burden of proof.

A Closer Look at Warren Buffet’s Letter to Berkshire Shareholders by Kevin LaCroix in the D&O Diary

Notwithstanding these results, it would be a mistake just to focus on the company’s relative performance during a single 12-month reporting period. Obviously, it is inherent in the nature of annual reports that the company in question will be considered in an annual snapshot perspective. But if Berkshire is only considered on this annual reporting period basis, a much more meaningful message might be overlooked. Simply put, Berkshire Hathaway is an astonishing company, and it is becoming even more so all the time.