In recent years, the need to implement integrity policies has resurfaced around the world, derived mainly from:
- The entry into force of laws that provide administrative and criminal penalties for acts of corruption.
- Recognition of the criminal liability of companies.
- The possibility that companies that adopt and implement optimal integrity policies and standards may be exempted from certain sanctions or receive reduced fines.
- The implementation of ESG standards to access external financing.
- The reputational risk to which companies are exposed due to complaints made through social networks.
To this end, a large number of companies, many of them multinationals, have given greater importance to the creation and implementation of corporate integrity systems. However, some have limited themselves to translating standards adopted in their countries of origin or at the global level, without taking into consideration the particularities of each jurisdiction.
In the case of Mexico, it is important to remember that the General Law of Administrative Responsibilities establishes the minimum requirements that a company's integrity policies must contain so that, in the event that it is involved in an investigation for alleged acts of corruption, it can be exempt from liability or, if applicable, receive a reduced sanction.
The minimum elements that a corporate integrity system must contain, according to said Law, are the following:
- Clear company organization and procedures manuals.
- To have a code of conduct, published and socialized. The code shall contain the systems and mechanisms for its application and enforcement.
- Adequate and effective control, monitoring and auditing systems.
- Adequate reporting systems (internal and to authorities).
- Disciplinary proceedings and specific consequences for violators.
- Training and training systems.
- Human resources policies that include the implementation of due diligence actions prior to hiring employees.
- Mechanisms to ensure transparency and disclosure of interests.
Although the task of preparing these documents may seem simple, the reality is that for them to work in a real and effective manner it is necessary to adopt a multidisciplinary approach, taking into account: (i) current legislation - including aspects of criminal law, administrative law, labor rights, human rights, etc.), (ii) the structure and processes of the company, so as not to negatively impact its operation or create unnecessary bureaucracy, (iii) the objectives and risks of each company, as well as its relations with third parties - including bodies at different levels of government, and (iv) the size of the company and its budget for the implementation of this type of policy.
In the team of Compliance and Research at Santamarina + Steta we have taken as best practice the realization of a total immersion in each of the companies we work with for the creation and implementation of corporate integrity systems, with the purpose of designing strategies and systems tailored to each of them. It is vital that an integrity system becomes a living and important part of the business culture of each of our clients, supporting them throughout the process of creation and implementation.