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The Legal 500-Chile Roundtable: contemporary issues in compliance

The Legal 500. April, 2018

The recently re-modelled offices of Porzio Ríos García in Las Condes, Santiago were the venue for this discussion where a ‘full house’ of attendees included L’Oréal, JP Morgan, Mall Plaza, Pacific Hydro, Compass Group, CGE, Nestlé Chile, Farmacias Ahumada and insurance group Consorcio, Pfizer, BHP Billiton and Anglo American, among others. Key topics under discussion included the evolution of compliance, the application of foreign extra-territorial laws, how to successfully inculcate ethical behaviour and corporate integrity, and on a more concrete level, whistle-blowing procedures. (The latter provided a moment of humour when one GC noted that the Chilean operation of the regional company for which he worked was lauded for reporting zero denunciations year-on-year… until it was realised that one of the digits in the publicised hot-line number was incorrect and so reporting abuse by that means, impossible!)

‘What do we talk about when we talk of compliance?’ The question is more substantial -and complex- than it may appear. Certainly, on the strength of this event, every corporate counsel has a very distinct response to the enquiry, leading -moreover- to a vast range of responses and states-of-preparedness in the face of the deluge of requirements resulting not only from international law (most notably, the US Foreign and Corrupt Practices Act and the UK Bribery Act), but also, increasingly, EU and domestic data privacy legislation, along with local regulation, Ley 20.393. However, while many of these differences stemmed from the nature of the business sector concerned (and to a lesser extent, the size of the organization involved), beyond this a significant -and arguably worrying- divide emerged between the readiness of multinational businesses and the weakness of compliance structures (and concomitantly attitude) displayed by local businesses and certain subsidiaries: this in what is widely and probably correctly regarded as the most sophisticated legal market in South America. For some, ‘80% of compliance’ comprised ensuring that bribes were neither offered or received; a surprising attitude given that, while Chile has avoided the excesses of the Lavo Jato scandal (Odebrecht never gained entry to the Chilean market), the country has not been without its own corruption matters, such as the Cascadas and Pentagate affairs. As the session came to a close there was certainly a broader understanding that compliance is not a fashion, something that will come-and-go, a dawning recognition that compliance is the new normal… and that beyond that, in the face of the very real risks of sizeable fines and reputational damage, it also makes good business sense.

‘A very useful and entertaining session’, commented one GC subsequently; while another noted ‘this type of event simply doesn’t exist in Chile, so this initiative really serves a purpose’. We look forward to doing more of these events in the near future. In the interim, I would like to thank all those who attend sharing their perspectives and vision so freely, and of course note our gratitude to sponsor firm Porzio, Ríos, García, without whom this event would not have been possible.

Please scroll down to see pictures of the event: