News & what's on - Written by on Wednesday, March 19, 2014 13:53 - 0 Comments

NEWSFLASH: Common sense prevails again! Prosecutors give credit for compliance programs in Norway too.

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Viking ShipStarting with the Vikings, Norway has a long history of seeking out new emerging markets.

With emerging markets comes risk.

Today Barry spoke at the Oslo Compliance Forum organized by Wiersholm, Norway’s largest law firm which itself has a history of advising and representing clients on anti-corruption compliance and investigations.  I spoke at length to Jan FougnerMarit Berger Rosland and Georg Engebretsen – they know what they’re talking about and have been involved in some big cases – so if you have a problem in Norway, call them.  I would in a heartbeat.

I digress.

The focus – third party risk.

Other speakers included representatives from Wiersholm, Okokrim, Telenor and Statoil giving a soup to nuts overview of the importance of compliance.

Referencing the FCPA guide and even the UK’s own guidance on Adequate Procedures came a plea for similar guidance from the Norwegian government for Norwegian business.

I have sympathy with this request, but for my money, there is already plenty of guidance out there already and it is, in the main, pretty sensible stuff.

I can see that it would be helpful for some pointers from the local government that it adopts a similar approach.  But another guide, similar but different?

Not so much.

But. I was interested to understand the approach of the Norwegian  Prosecutor.

In the UK we have the defence of Adequate Procedures.

In the US, the SEC and DOJ have demonstrated that credit will be given if a business with a working compliance plan discovers a problem.  The credit including declinations with no action taken against the corporate.

What, I asked, would the position be in Norway?

To paraphrase the answer – the same.

Marianne Djupesland from Okokrim (the Norwegian equivalent of the SFO or DOJ) assured me that the Norwegian anti-corruption law was not a million miles apart from the Bribery Act and that in the case of corporations the prosecutor had a discretion as to whether to prosecute.  She could not think of an example where a corporate with an effective compliance program had been prosecuted.

The strong inference – that that approach wouldn’t change.

This is good news for Norwegian compliance officers and good news for Norwegian corporates and a healthy dose of (un)common sense.


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