Une culture empreinte de corruption mène habituellement à de sérieux manquements organisationnels !


Si l’on pouvait identifier les variables qui contribuent à créer une culture d’entreprise corrompue, pourrait-on prévoir les comportements corporatifs fautifs ?

C’est essentiellement la question de recherche à laquelle Xiaoding Liu, professeur de finance à University of Oregon’s Lundquist College of Business, a tenté de répondre dans un article utilisant une méthodologie originale et une solide analyse.

L’auteur avance qu’une culture d’entreprise souffrant d’un certain degré de corruption, c’est-à-dire ayant une culture interne plus tolérante envers le manque d’éthique, est plus susceptible de mener à des manquements corporatifs significatifs eu égard aux malversations, aux conflits d’intérêts et aux comportements organisationnels  «opportunistes».

In particular, they ask whether a firm’s inherent tendency to behave opportunistically is deeply rooted in its corporate culture, commonly defined as the shared values and beliefs of a firm’s employees.

Cet article montre qu’il y a un lien significatif entre une culture interne basée sur de faibles valeurs éthiques et la probabilité d’inconduite de la direction.

De plus, l’article montre que les comportements des employés basés sur de faibles valeurs éthiques sont transmissibles à d’autres organisations et que ces conclusions s’appliquent tout autant à la direction.

C’est la raison pour laquelle les conseils d’administration doivent se préoccuper de la culture de l’entreprise, s’assurer d’avoir le pouls du climat interne et être vigilants eu égard aux manquements à l’éthique.

Il est également crucial de s’assurer d’avoir une équipe d’auditeurs internes indépendants et bien outillés qui se rapporte au comité d’audit de l’entreprise.

À la suite de ce compte rendu, vous aurez sûrement des questions d’ordre méthodologique. Si vous voulez en savoir davantage sur la démarche de l’auteur, je vous encourage fortement, même si c’est ardu, de lire l’article au complet.

Bonne lecture !

Corruption Culture and Corporate Misconduct

 

A key question in corporate governance is how to control problems arising from conflicts of interest between agents and principals. The existing literature has extensively investigated traditional ways of dealing with agency problems such as hostile takeovers, the board of directors, and institutional investors, and has found mixed evidence regarding their effectiveness. Acknowledging the difficulty in designing effective governance rules to curb corporate scandals and bank failures, regulators and academics have recently turned their attention inward to the firm’s employees. In particular, they ask whether a firm’s inherent tendency to behave opportunistically is deeply rooted in its corporate culture, commonly defined as the shared values and beliefs of a firm’s employees.

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In my article, Corruption Culture and Corporate Misconduct, recently published in the Journal of Financial Economics, I investigate this question by studying the role of corporate culture in influencing corporate misconduct. To do so, I create a measure of corporate corruption culture, which captures a firm’s general attitude toward opportunistic behavior. Specifically, corporate corruption culture is calculated as the average corruption attitudes of insiders (i.e., officers and directors) of a company. To measure corruption attitudes of insiders, I use a recently developed methodology from the economics literature that is generally described as the epidemiological approach (Fernández, 2011). It is based on the key idea that when individuals emigrate from their native country to a new country, their cultural beliefs and values travel with them, but their external environment is left behind. Moreover, these immigrants not only bring their beliefs and values to the new country, they also pass down these beliefs to their descendants. Thus, relevant economic outcomes at the country of ancestry are used as proxies of culture for immigrants and their descendants. Applying this approach, I use corruption in the insiders’ country of ancestry to capture corruption attitudes for insiders in the U.S., where the country of ancestry is identified based on surnames using U.S. Census data.

Using a sample of over 8,000 U.S. companies, I test the main prediction that firms with high corruption culture, which tend to be more tolerant toward corrupt behavior, are more likely to engage in corporate misconduct. Consistent with this prediction, I find that corporate corruption culture has a significant positive effect on various types of corporate misconduct such as earnings management, accounting fraud, option backdating, and opportunistic insider trading. The effects are also economically significant: a one standard deviation increase in a firm’s corruption culture is associated with an increase in the likelihood of corporate misconduct by about 2% to 7%, which are comparable to the effects of other governance measures such as board independence.

I further show that my findings are robust to controlling for time-varying local and industry factors, and traditional measures of corporate governance including the board size, the percentage of insider directors, the presence of institutional investors, and the threat of hostile takeovers. Van den Steen (2010) proposes a model of corporate culture and predicts that the appointment of a new CEO will lead to turnover through both selection and self-sorting. Thus, although corporate culture tends to be persistent over time, it is likely to change in a significant way around new CEO appointments. Motivated by this prediction, I examine corporate misconduct 5 years before and after the appointment of a new CEO while controlling for firm fixed effects. I continue to find a significant positive relation between corruption culture and corporate misconduct, which further alleviates endogeneity concerns.

The theoretical literature has predictions regarding the mechanisms through which corporate culture would affect opportunistic behavior. The first channel predicts that corruption culture acts as a selection mechanism by attracting or selecting individuals with similar corruption attitudes to the firm, where these individuals act according to their internal norms that are then reflected in corporate outcomes (Schneider, 1987). Consistent with this channel, I find that individuals with high corruption attitudes are more likely to join firms with high corruption culture and an insider is more likely to leave the firm if his corruption attitudes are more distant from the corruption attitudes of the other insiders in the firm. The second channel predicts that corruption culture can operate beyond internal norms and have a direct effect on individual behavior through group norms (Hackman, 1992). To test this channel, I examine misconduct at the insider level and focus on the sample of insiders that have moved across firms. Holding the individual constant, results show that when the same individual joins a firm with high corruption culture, his likelihood of engaging in personal misconduct increases compared to when he was at a firm with low corruption culture, consistent with corruption culture working through group norms.

In summary, I show that a firm’s corruption culture is an important determinant of the firm’s likelihood of engaging in corporate misconduct. This finding echoes the growing focus on corporate culture by regulators in an effort to curb corporate wrongdoing. Moreover, I provide evidence on the inner workings of corruption culture, showing that it influences corporate misconduct by both acting as a selection mechanism and having a direct influence on individual behavior. To the best of my knowledge, this is the first paper to construct a novel measure of corporate culture based on the ancestry origins of company insiders. By doing so, I contribute to a growing finance literature examining the influence of corporate culture on corporate behavior, where the main challenge is measurement.

The full article is available for download here.

Le scandale de Volkswagen vu sous l’angle de la gouvernance corporative | Raymonde Crête


Aujourd’hui, je vous propose la lecture d’un article paru dans la revue European Journal of Risk Regulation (EJRR) qui scrute le scandale de Volkswagen sous l’angle juridique, mais, surtout, sous l’angle des manquements à la saine gouvernance.

Me Raymonde Crête, auteure de l’article, est professeure à la Faculté de Droit de l’Université Laval et elle dirige le Groupe de recherche en droit des services financiers (GRDSF).

Le texte se présente comme un cas en gouvernance et en management. Celui-ci devrait alimenter les réflexions sur l’éthique, les valeurs culturelles et les effets des pressions excessives à la performance.

Vous trouverez, ci-dessous, l’intégralité de l’article avec le consentement de l’auteure. Je n’ai pas inclus les références, qui sont très abondantes et qui peuvent être consultées sur le site de la maison d’édition lexxion.

Bonne lecture !

The Volkswagen Scandal from the Viewpoint of Corporate Governance

par Me Raymonde Crête

I. Introduction

Like some other crises and scandals that periodically occur in the business community, the Volkswagen (“VW”) scandal once again highlights the devastating consequences of corporate misconduct, once publicly disclosed, and the media storm that generally follows the discovery of such significant misbehaviour by a major corporation. Since the crisis broke in September 2015, the media have relayed endless détails about the substantial negative impacts on VW on various stakeholder groups such as employees, directors, investors, suppliers and consumers, and on the automobile industry as a whole (1)

The multiple and negative repercussions at the economic, organizational and legal levels have quickly become apparent, in particular in the form of resignations, changes in VW’s senior management, layoffs, a hiring freeze, the end to the marketing of diesel-engined vehicles, vehicle recalls, a decline in car sales, a drop in market capitalization, and the launching of internal investigations by VW and external investigations by the public authorities. This comes in addition to the threat of numerous civil, administrative, penal and criminal lawsuits and the substantial penalties they entail, as well as the erosion of trust in VW and the automobile industry generally (2).

FILE PHOTO: Martin Winterkorn, chief executive officer of Volkswagen AG, reacts during an earnings news conference at the company's headquarters in Wolfsburg, Germany, on Monday, March 12, 2012. Volkswagen said 11 million vehicles were equipped with diesel engines at the center of a widening scandal over faked pollution controls that will cost the company at least 6.5 billion euros ($7.3 billion). Photographer: Michele Tantussi/Bloomberg *** Local Caption *** Martin Winterkorn
FILE PHOTO: Martin Winterkorn, chief executive officer of Volkswagen AG, reacts during an earnings news conference at the company’s headquarters in Wolfsburg, Germany, on Monday, March 12, 2012. Volkswagen said 11 million vehicles were equipped with diesel engines at the center of a widening scandal over faked pollution controls that will cost the company at least 6.5 billion euros ($7.3 billion). Photographer: Michele Tantussi/Bloomberg *** Local Caption *** Martin Winterkorn

A scandal of this extent cannot fail to raise a number of questions, in particular concerning the cause of the alleged cheating, liable actors, the potential organizational and regulatory problems related to compliance, and ways to prevent further misconduct at VW and within the automobile industry. Based on the information surrounding the VW scandal, it is premature to capture all facets of the case. In order to analyze inmore depth the various problems raised, we will have to wait for the findings of the investigations conducted both internally by the VW Group and externally by the regulatory authorities.

While recognizing the incompleteness of the information made available to date by VW and certain commentators, we can still use this documentation to highlight a few features of the case that deserve to be studied from the standpoint of corporate governance.

This Article remains relatively modest in scope, and is designed to highlight certain organizational factors that may explain the deviant behaviour observed at VW. More specifically, it submits that the main cause of VW’s alleged wrongdoing lies in the company’s ambitious production targets for the U.S. market and the time and budget constraints imposed on employees to reach those targets. Arguably, the corporate strategy and pressures exerted on VW’s employees may have led them to give preference to the performance priorities set by the company rather than compliance with the applicable legal and ethical standards. And this corporate misconduct could not be detected because of deficiencies in the monitoring and control mechanisms, and especially in the compliance system established by the company to ensure that legal requirements were respected.

Although limited in scope, this inquiry may prove useful in identifying means to minimize, in the future, the risk of similar misconduct, not only at VW but wihin other companies as well (3). Given the limited objectives of the Article, which focuses on certain specific organizational deficiencies at VW, the legal questions raised by the case will not be addressed. However, the Article will refer to one aspect of the law of business corporations in the United States, Canada and in the EU Member States in order to emphasize the crucial role that boards in publicly-held companies must exercise to minimize the risk of misconduct (4).

II. A Preliminary Admission by VW: Individual Misconduct by a few Software Engineers

When a scandal erupts in the business community following a case of fraud, embezzlement, corruption, the marketing of dangerous products or other deviant behaviour, the company concerned and the regulatory authorities are required to quickly identify the individuals responsible for the alleged misbehaviour. For example, in the Enron, WorldCom, Tyco and Adelphia scandals of the early 2000s, the investigations revealed that certain company senior managers had acted fraudulently by orchestrating accounting manipulations to camouflage their business’s dire financial situation (5).

These revelations led to the prosecution and conviction of the officers responsible for the corporations’ misconduct (6). In the United States, the importanace of identifying individual wrongdoers is clearly stated in the Principles of Federal Prosecutions of Business Organizations issued by the U.S. Department of Justice which provide guidelines for prosecutions of corporate misbehaviour (7). On the basis of a memo issued in 2015 by the Department of Justice (the “Yatesmemo”) (8), these principles were recently revised to express a renewed commitment to investigate and prosecute individuals responsible for corporate wrongdoing.While recognizing the importance of individual prosecutions in that context, the strategy is only one of the ways to respond to white-collar crime. From a prevention standpoint, it is essential to conduct a broader examination of the organizational environment in which senior managers and employees work to determine if the enterprise’s culture, values, policies, monitoring mechanisms and practices contribute or have contributed to the adoption of deviant behaviour (9).

In the Volkswagen case, the company’s management concentrated first on identifying the handful of individuals it considered to be responsible for the deception, before admitting few weeks later that organizational problems had also encouraged or facilitated the unlawful corporate behaviour. Once news broke of the Volkswagen scandal, one of VW’s officers quickly linked the wrongdoing to the actions of a few employees, but without uncovering any governance problems or misbehaviour at the VW management level (10).

In October 2015, the President and Chief Executive Officer of the VW Group in the United States, Michael Horn, stated in testimony before a Congressional Subcommittee: “[t]his was a couple of software engineers who put this for whatever reason » […]. To my understanding, this was not a corporate decision. This was something individuals did » (11). In other words, the US CEO considered that sole responsibility for the scandal lay with a handful of engineers working at the company, while rejecting any allegation tending to incriminate the company’s management.

This portion of his testimony failed to convince the members of the Subcommittee, who expressed serious doubts about placing sole blame on the misbehaviour of a few engineers, given that the problem had existed since 2009. As expressed in a sceptical response from one of the committee’s members: « I cannot accept VW’s portrayal of this as something by a couple of rogue software engineers […] Suspending three folks – it goes way, way higher than that » (12).

Although misconduct similar to the behaviour uncovered at Volkswagen can often be explained by the reprehensible actions of a few individuals described as « bad apples », the violation of rules can also be explained by the existence of organizational problems within a company (13).

III. Recognition of Organizational Failures by VW

In terms of corporate governance, an analysis of misbehaviour can highlight problems connected with the culture, values, policies and strategies promoted by a company’s management that have a negative influence on the behaviour of senior managers and employees. Considering the importance of the organizational environment in which these players act, regulators provide for several internal and external governance mechanisms to reduce the risk of corporate misbehaviour or to minimize agency problems (14). As one example of an internal governance mechanism, the law of business corporations in the U.S., Canada and the EU Member States gives the board of directors (in a one-tier board structure, as prescribed Under American and Canadian corporation law) and the management board and supervisory board (in a two tier board structure, as provided for in some EU Member States, such as Germany) a key role to play in monitoring the company’s activities and internal dealings (15). As part of their monitoring mission, the board must ensure that the company and its agents act in a diligent and honest way and in compliance with the regulations, in particular by establishing mechanisms or policies in connection with risk management, internal controls, information disclosure, due diligence investigation and compliance (16).

When analysing the Volkswagen scandal from the viewpoint of its corporate governance, the question to be asked is whether the culture, values, priorities, strategies and monitoring and control mechanisms established by the company’s management board and supervisory board – in other words « the tone at the top »-, created an environment that contributed to the emergence of misbehaviour (17).

In this saga, although the initial testimony given to the Congressional Subcommittee by the company’s U.S. CEO, Michael Horn, assigned sole responsibility to a small circle of individuals, « VW’s senior management later recognized that the misconduct could not be explained simply by the deviant behaviour of a few people, since the evidence also pointed to organizational problems supporting the violation of regulations (18). In December 2015, VW’s management released the following observations, drawn from the preliminary results of its internal investigation:

« Group Audit’s examination of the relevant processes indicates that the software-influenced NOx emissions behavior was due to the interaction of three factors:

– The misconduct and shortcomings of individual employees

– Weaknesses in some processes

– A mindset in some areas of the Company that tolerated breaches of rules » (19).

Concerning the question of process,VW released the following audit key findings:

« Procedural problems in the relevant subdivisions have encouraged misconduct;

Faults in reporting and monitoring systems as well as failure to comply with existing regulations;

IT infrastructure partially insufficient and antiquated. » (20)

More fundamentally, VW’s management pointed out at the same time that the information obtained up to that point on “the origin and development of the nitrogen issue […] proves not to have been a one-time error, but rather a chain of errors that were allowed to happen (21). The starting point was a strategic decision to launch a large-scale promotion of diesel vehicles in the United States in 2005. Initially, it proved impossible to have the EA 189 engine meet by legal means the stricter nitrogen oxide requirements in the United States within the required timeframe and budget » (22).

In other words, this revelation by VW’s management suggests that « the end justified the means » in the sense that the ambitious production targets for the U.S. market and the time and budget constraints imposed on employees encouraged those employees to use illegal methods in operational terms to achieve the company’s objective. And this misconduct could not be detected because of deficiencies in the monitoring and control mechanisms, and especially in the compliance system established by the company to ensure that legal requirements were respected. Among the reasons given to explain the crisis, some observers also pointed to the excessive centralization of decision-making powers within VW’s senior management, and an organizational culture that acted as a brake on internal communications and discouraged mid-level managers from passing on bad news (23).

IV. Organizational Changes Considered as a Preliminary Step

In response to the crisis, VW’s management, in a press release in December 2015, set out the main organizational changes planned to minimize the risk of similar misconduct in the future. The changes mainly involved « instituting a comprehensive new alignment that affects the structure of the Group, as well as is way of thinking and its strategic goals (24).

In structural terms, VW changed the composition of the Group’s Board of Management to include the person responsible for the Integrity and Legal Affairs Department as a board member (25). In the future, the company wanted to give « more importance to digitalization, which will report directly to the Chairman of the Board of Management, » and intended to give « more independence to brand and divisions through a more decentralized management (26). With a view to initiating a new mindset, VW’s management stated that it wanted to avoid « yes-men » and to encourage managers and engineers « who are curious, independent, and pioneering » (27). However, the December 2015 press release reveals little about VW’s strategic objectives: « Strategy 2025, with which Volkswagen will address the main issues for the future, is scheduled to be presented in mid 2016 » (28).

Although VW’s management has not yet provided any details on the specific objectives targeted in its « Strategy 2025 », it is revealing to read the VW annual reports from before 2015 in which the company sets out clear and ambitious objectives for productivity and profitability. For example, the annual reports for 2007, 2009 and 2014 contained the following financial objectives, which the company hoped to reach by 2018.

In its 2007 annual report,VW specified, under the heading « Driving ideas »:

“Financial targets are equally ambitious: for example, the Volkswagen Passenger Cars brand aims to increase its unit sales by over 80 percent to 6.6 million vehicles by 2018, thereby reaching a global market share of approximately 9 percent. To make it one of the most profitable automobile companies as well, it is aiming for an ROI of 21 percent and a return on sales before tax of 9 percent.” (29).

Under the same heading, VW stated in its 2009 annual report:

“In 2018, the Volkswagen Group aims to be the most successful and fascinating automaker in the world. […] Over the long term, Volkswagen aims to increase unit sales to more than 10 million vehicles a year: it intends to capture an above-average share as the major growth markets develop (30).

And in its 2014 annual report, under the heading « Goals and Strategies », VW said:

“The goal is to generate unit sales of more than 10 million vehicles a year; in particular, Volkswagen intends to capture an above-average share of growth in the major growth markets.”

Volkswagen’s aim is a long-term return on sales before tax of at least 8% so as to ensure that the Group’s solid financial position and ability to act are guaranteed even in difficult market periods (31).

Besides these specific objectives for financial performance, the annual reports show that the company’s management recognized, at least on paper, the importance of ensuring regulatory compliance and promoting corporate social responsibility (CSR) and sustainability (31). However, after the scandal broke in September 2015, questions can be asked about the effectiveness of the governance mechanisms, especially of the reporting and monitoring systems put in place by VW to achieve company goals in this area (33). In light of the preliminary results of VW’s internal investigation (34), as mentionned above, it seems that, in the organizational culture, the commitment to promote compliance, CSR and sustainability was not as strong as the effort made to achieve the company’s financial performance objectives.

Concerning the specific and challenging priorities of productivity and profitability established by VW’s management in previous years, the question is whether the promotion of financial objectives such as these created a risk because of the pressure it placed on employees within the organizational environment. The priorities can, of course, exert a positive influence and motivate employees to make an even greater effort to achieve the objectives (35). On the other hand, the same priority can exert a negative influence by potentially encouraging employees to use all means necessary to achieve the performance objectives set, in order to protect their job or obtain a promotion, even if the means they use for that purpose contravene the regulations. In other words, the employees face a « double bind » or dilemma which, depending on the circumstances, can lead them to give preference to the performance priorities set by the company rather than compliance with the applicable legal and ethical standards.

In the management literature, a large number of theoretical and empirical studies emphasize the beneficial effects of the setting of specific and challenging goals on employee motivation and performance within a company (36). However, while recognizing these beneficial effects, some authors point out the unwanted or negative side effects they may have.

As highlighted by Ordóñez, Schweitzer, Galinsky and Bazerman, specific goal setting can result in employees focusing solely on those goals while neglecting other important, but unstated, objectives (37). They also mention that employees motivated by « specific, challenging goals adopt riskier strategies and choose riskier gambles than do those with less challenging or vague goals (38). As an additional unwanted side effet, goal setting can encourage unlawful or unethical behaviour, either by inciting employees to use dishonest methods to meet the performance objectives targeted, or to “misrepresent their performance level – in other words, to report that they met a goal when in fact they fell short (39). Based on these observations, the authors suggest that companies should set their objectives with the greatest care and propose various ways to guard against the unwanted side effects highlighted in their study. This approach could prove useful for VW’s management which will once again, at some point, have to define its objectives and stratégies.

V. Conclusion

In the information released to the public after the emissions cheating scandal broke, as mentioned above, VW’s management quickly stated that the misconduct was directly caused by the individual misbehaviour of a couple of software engineers. Later, however, it admitted that the individual misconduct of a few employees was not the only cause, and that there were also organizational deficiencies within the company itself.

Although the VW Group’s public communications have so far provided few details about the cause of the crisis, the admission by management that both individual and organizational failings were involved constitutes, in our opinion, a lever for understanding the various factors that may have led to reprehensible conduct within the company. Based on the investigations that will be completed over the coming months, VW’s management will be in a position to identify more precisely the nature of these organizational failings and to propose ways to minimize the risk of future violations. During 2016, VW’s management will also announce the objectives and stratégies it intends to pursue over the next few years.

Le contrôle interne dans les OBNL | En reprise


Dans ce billet, je fais référence à un très bon article de Richard Leblanc, paru récemment dans CanadianBusiness.com, qui met l’accent sur la sensibilisation du Conseil à l’importance accrue du contrôle interne dans les OBNL.

L’auteur donne quelques bons exemples d’organisations où le contrôle interne a été défaillant et il montre que les OBNL sont particulièrement vulnérables à des malversations, surtout lorsque l’on sait que le contrôle interne est à peu près inexistant !

C’est la responsabilité du conseil d’administration de s’assurer que les bons contrôles sont en place. L’intérêt public l’exige !

Non-profit boards need a hands-on approach

 

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« Non-profit and charitable organizations have stretched resources, which makes them particularly vulnerable to fraudsters. The Salvation Army is currently going through such a situation after a whistleblower informed the organization that $2 million in donated toys had disappeared from—or wasn’t delivered to—their main warehouse in north Toronto over roughly two years ».

Les conseils d’administration doivent veiller à la culture éthique de l’entreprise


Selon *, juriste, consultant et chercheur en gouvernance, la grande responsabilité des échecs dans le domaine des affaires revient aux conseils d’administration, souvent complaisants et irresponsables.

On croit, souvent à tort, que les CA sont toujours alertes et qu’ils veillent aux intérêts de l’entreprise. Ce n’est pas toujours le cas !

L’auteur pense même que les « Boards » sont ultimement responsables des fraudes, malversations et manques d’éthique parce que souvent certains de leurs membres manquent d’une valeur essentielle au succès des entreprises : l’éthique.

Il règne même, à l’occasion, une culture qui favorise le comportement non-éthique à la grandeur de l’organisation.

Leblanc blâme sévèrement les administrateurs pour leur manque de vigilance à cet égard. Et, je crois qu’il a raison.

« Tone at the top » devrait être l’expression la plus utilisée dans le domaine de l’éthique et des comportements socialement responsables. En effet, il faut donner l’exemple et ça commence par les actions et les messages véhiculés par le conseil et par son président, le porte-parole du CA.

Voici un extrait de l’article paru dans le HuffPost Business le 31 mai 2015.

Bonne lecture !

Western Companies Need More Integrity

« We didn’t know. » « We missed it. » « It was a rogue employee. » There is not an excuse I have not heard for ethical failure. But when I investigate a company after allegations of fraud, corruption or workplace wrongdoing, almost always there is a complacent, captured or entrenched board that did not take corrective action. In a few cases, boards actually encouraged the wrong-doing.interview

The first myth is that the board is a « good » board. There is no relationship between the « glow » or profile of directors and whether the board is « good. » Often times, there is an inverse relationship, as trophy or legacy directors typically lack industry and risk expertise in recognizing fraud or understanding what proper compliance looks like, are not really independent, are coasting and not prepared to put in the work, or they themselves may not possess integrity.

How important is integrity? Extremely. Three factors make for a good director or manager: competence, commitment and integrity, with integrity ranking first. Otherwise, you have the first two working against you.

Integrity needs to be defined, recruited for, and enforced. « Does your colleague possess integrity? » « Yes » is an answer to this perfunctory question. Full marks. But when I define integrity to include avoiding conflicts of interest, consistency between what is said and done, ethical conduct, and trustworthiness – and guarantee anonymity, I get a spread of performance scores. Those who do not possess integrity in the eyes of their colleagues are poison and should are extracted from any board or a senior management team. They never should have been elected or hired in the first place, which is a recruitment failure.

Fraud, toxic workplaces, bullying, harassment and pressure do not occur in a vacuum. Many people in the company know. The issue will not go away, will only get worse, and is a latent legal, financial and reputation risk.

For bad news to rise, boards need to ensure that protected channels exist and are used – including for a director or executive to speak up in confidence, and for an independent consequential investigation to occur.

Ethical reporting also needs to assure anonymity to the fullest possible extent to receive reliable information. If a whistle-blowing program has any manager as the point of contact, it is not effective. Whistle blowing, culture surveys, and ethics audits should be conducted independently and reported directly to the board without management interference.

Frequently, I find ethical design and implementation failure are the culprits, with codes of conduct, conflict of interest policies, whistle-blowing procedures, culture and workplace audits, and education and communication being perfunctory at best, overridden by management at worst, and not taken seriously by employees or key suppliers, with minimal assurance and oversight by the board.

à suivre …


*Richard Leblanc is a governance consultant, lawyer, academic, speaker and advisor to leading boards of directors. He can be reached at rleblanc@boardexpert.com or followed on Twitter @drrleblanc.

Comité des C.A. sur la surveillance des risques


Ci-dessous, vous trouverez un billet, partagé par Denis Lefort, expert-conseil en gouvernance et en audit interne, qui vous incite à prendre connaissance du Bulletin de janvier 2014 du Conference Board intitulé « Risk Oversight: Evolving expectation for Board« .

Risk Oversight : Evolving Expectations for Boards

Présenté par Denis Lefort, CPA, CA, CIA, CRMA

Ce document, très intéressant, fait un retour en arrière sur les différentes analyses et recommandations effectuées par différents groupes dont, le NACD, la SEC, le SSG, Dodd-Frank, ICGN, FSB, FRC (les acronymes sont explicitées dans le document de 10 pages), dans la foulée des scandales financiers de 2008.

English: Contribution and prioritizing threats...
English: Contribution and prioritizing threats and risks to Risk Management Effectiveness (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Le document est très critique quant au rôle très actif que devraient jouer les conseils d’administration au niveau de la surveillance des risques. Il est aussi très critique des approches mises en œuvre par les fonctions Gestion des risques et audit interne. Enfin, des recommandations sont formulées pour ces trois instances.

Bien qu’au départ, le document ait ciblé les institutions financières, ses propos peuvent s’appliquer à un grand éventail d’organisations. C’est pourquoi je vous encourage tous à en prendre connaissance et à le partager avec vos dirigeants, membres de conseils, collègues et contacts professionnels. Voici un extrait. Bonne lecture !

The Risk Oversight Committee is responsible for :

a. determining where and when formal documented risk assessments should be completed, recognizing that additional risk management rigor and formality should be cost/benefit justified

b. ensuring that business units are identifying and reliably reporting the material risks to the key objectives identified in their annual strategic plans and core foundation objectives necessary for sustained success, including compliance with applicable laws and regulations

c. reviewing and assessing whether material risks being accepted across XYZ are consistent with the corporation’s risk appetite and tolerance

d. developing, implementing, and monitoring overall compliance with this policy

e. overseeing development, administration and periodic review of this policy for approval by the board of directors

f. reviewing and approving the annual external disclosures related to risk oversight processes required by securiti esregulators

g. reporting periodically to the CEO and the board on the corporation’s consolidated residual risk position

h. ensuring that an appropriate culture of risk-awareness exists throughout the organization

Business unit leaders are responsible for:

a. managing risks to their unit’s business objectives within the corporation’s risk appetite/tolerance

b. identifying in their business when they believe the benefits of formal risk assessment exceed the costs, or when requested to by the CEO or risk oversight committee

Risk management and assurance support services unit is responsible for :

a. providing risk assessment training, facilitation, and assessment services to senior management and business units upon request

b. annually preparing a consolidated report on XYZ’s most significant residual risks and related residual risk status, and a report on the current effectiveness and maturity of the Corporation’s risk management processes for review by the risk oversight committee, senior management, and the corporation’s board of directors

c. completing risk assessments of specific objectives that have not been formally assessed and reported on by business units when asked to by the risk oversight committee, senior management, or the board of directors; or if the risk management support services team leader believes that a formal risk assessment is warranted to provide a materially reliable risk status report to senior management and the board of directors

d. conducting independent quality assurance reviews on risk assessments completed by business units and providing feedback to enhance the quality and reliability of those assessments

e. participating in the drafting and review of the corporation’s annual disclosures in the Annual Reports and Proxy Statement related to risk management and oversight

Redefining The Role Of Internal Audit: Part Two (business2community.com)

Redefining The Role Of Internal Audit: Avoiding Redundancy (business2community.com)

Risk Based Internal Audit Planning (learnsigma.co.uk)

The difference between internal audit and external audit, by a firm consulting (iareportg5.wordpress.com)

Getting from Continuous Auditing to Continuous Risk Assessment (mjsnook.co)

The Internal Audit Activity’s Role in Governance, Risk, and Control (IIA Certified Internal Auditor – Part 1) (examcertifytraining.wordpress.com)

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Le pouls de l’audit interne en 2013 | Rapport de l’Institut des auditeurs internes (IAI)


Vous trouverez, ci-dessous, un rapport de l’Institut des auditeurs internes (IAI), partagé par Denis Lefort, expert-conseil /Gouvernance, Audit interne, Contrôle, sur les résultats du premier sondage de l’année 2013 concernant l’Amérique du nord, portant sur le pouls de la profession de l’audit interne (Pulse of the profession).

La fonction de l’audit interne au sein des entreprises est de plus en plus importante. Ce document comporte une foule de tableaux et d’illustrations qui seront, selon moi, très précieux pour évaluer l’essor de la profession. Je présente ici l’introduction au rapport suivi du sommaire des résultats et de la méthodologie.

Bonne lecture.

Defining Our Role In a Changing Landscape | The Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA)

The IIA’s Audit Executive Center conducts the North American Pulse of the Profession Survey to assess the state of the internal audit profession. This survey looks at trends and emerging issues in the internal audit profession within the United States, Canada, and the Caribbean. Last year, the survey results indicated the strongest Outlook for internal audit resources seen since the 2008 economic downturn. Continuing this trend, the 2013 survey suggests that the vast majority of the 428 CAEs and others in audit management roles who responded to this recent Pulse survey expect that their staff and budget resources will increase or stay the same in 2014.

2013-02-06 11.17.03

With resource levels stabilizing close to pre-recession levels, the focus for internal audit seems to have settled into more diversified audit coverage than would have been seen a few years ago. The survey results indicate that audit departments are expecting a greater focus on compliance risks and less emphasis on Sarbanes-Oxley. At the same time, limited coverage of strategic business risks suggests a misalignment with the priorities of executive management and audit committees. “Historically, internal audit has witnessed that stakeholder expectations are a moving target,” states IIA President and CEO Richard Chambers. “Even if we are aligned today, those expectations may change tomorrow.” Chambers goes on to say that “at the end of the day, stakeholders expect us to be risk-based, and if we are not aligned with their priorities, then I think there is a risk that we will fail to meet their expectations.”

This year, as in previous years, The IIA focused a portion of the survey on emerging issues that affect the practice of internal auditing. This survey introduced two focus areas:

– 2014 Requirements of the U.S. Affordable Care Act and anticipated risks.

– Preparedness for COSO 2013 Internal Control–Integrated Framework implementation.

Responses pertaining to the U.S. Affordable Care Act suggest that a potential expectation gap is emerging related to internal audit’s ability to help stakeholders understand their associated risks. In contrast, survey results regarding COSO 2013 implementation indicate that internal audit departments that are implementing the revised framework by December 2014 foresee an easy transition.

SURVEY RESULTS AT-A-GLANCE

The IIA Audit Executive Center’s 2013 North American Pulse of the Profession Survey of 428 North American internal

audit professionals yielded the following overarching results:

1. The outlook for internal audit resources remains strong with steady increases in budget and staff levels and fewer decreases in some areas than in previous years.

2. One area of misalignment with stakeholder priorities appears to be strategic business risk.

3. Compliance risks are predicted to elicit greater audit coverage in 2014, pushing ahead of competing risk areas.

SURVEY DEMOGRAPHICS IN A NUTSHELL

The IIA Audit Executive Center’s 2013 North American Pulse of the Profession garnered responses from 428 CAEs and others in audit management roles within North American organizations, varying widely in type, size, and industry sector. Publicly traded organizations comprise the largest group of respondent organizations (38 percent). Privately held organizations and public sector entities also represent a significant portion of respondents — 27 percent and 23 percent, respectively. In addition, 14 percent of all respondents work in Fortune 500 companies.

The survey also shows a wide variation in staff size among respondent organizations, ranging from one person (11 percent) to more than 100 people (3 percent). The largest segment (38 percent) report staff sizes between two and five auditors. Participants represent more than 26 industries, with the highest representation from the financial services industry (22 percent). Other industries that participated at notable rates include insurance (8 percent), health services (8 percent), manufacturing (7 percent), and education (7 percent).

__________________________________

*The IIA’s Audit Executive Center is the essential resource to empower CAEs to be more successful. The Center’s suite of information, products, and services enables CAEs to respond to the unique challenges and emerging risks of the profession. For more information onthe Center, visit http://www.theiia.org/cae.

Redefining The Role Of Internal Audit: Part Two (business2community.com)

Redefining The Role Of Internal Audit: Avoiding Redundancy (business2community.com)

Risk Based Internal Audit Planning (learnsigma.co.uk)

The difference between internal audit and external audit, by a firm consulting (iareportg5.wordpress.com)

Getting from Continuous Auditing to Continuous Risk Assessment (mjsnook.co)

The Internal Audit Activity’s Role in Governance, Risk, and Control (IIA Certified Internal Auditor – Part 1) (examcertifytraining.wordpress.com)

Le cas d’un nouveau président du conseil d’administration (PCA) d’une société d’État


Voici un cas qui intéressera sûrement tous les membres de conseils d’administration de sociétés d’État. Même si le cas en gouvernance origine du site australien de Julie Garland McLellan, je crois que celui-ci s’applique très bien à la situation des sociétés d’État québécoises.

Voici donc un cas original tiré d’une situation vécue dans une entreprise d’État. Comment un président du conseil (PCA – Chairman) et son conseil peuvent-ils arriver à gérer une situation critique créée par ses prédécesseurs, une situation qui a le potentiel de nuire à l’organisation et de discréditer le conseil et le gouvernement.

Qu’en pensez-vous ? Que feriez-vous à la place de Brian pour faire évoluer le conseil ?

Ce cas a été analysé par trois experts de la gouvernance (Voir les avis des experts dans le texte ci-dessous). Quelle analyse vous semble la plus appropriée dans notre contexte ?

Le cas du nouveau président du conseil d’administration (PCA) d’une société d’État

Brian is chairman of a government owned company. Succession has been ‘actively managed’ with directors rotating on and off the board. This has given access to new skills including marketing and modern media but has resulted in a board with relatively little corporate history. Brian is the longest serving member and has only been on the board for five years.

Walmart Chairman of the Board Discusses Making...
Walmart Chairman of the Board Discusses Making a Difference (Photo credit: Walmart Corporate)

Six years ago the company terminated the employment of the then CFO due to allegations of improper accounting which had resulted in revalued assets and a large profit being declared in the prior year triggering  payment of bonuses to the then CFO and CEO.
The former CEO left shortly after receiving the bonus. The replacement CEO decided to investigate the accounting treatment. The investigation was conducted by the outsourced internal audit firm and concluded that the accounting treatment did not meet guidelines or even generally accepted accounting standards. The statutory auditors agreed. The asset revaluations were subsequently reversed which led to a large loss, no dividends or tax equivalent payments that year, and great embarrassment.

The former CFO was terminated and the matter referred to the police as a possible fraud. A new CFO was appointed. She is a pleasant and efficient person whom the board like and respect. She is considered a potential successor to the current CEO. The police decided not to pursue the fraud allegations as they believed these lacked sufficient evidence. The former CFO is suing for wrongful dismissal, the lawyers believe he may win, and the current CFO is worried because the union is calling for the former CFO to be reinstated.

The board is looking to Brian, who also chairs the remuneration committee, for guidance on what to do. The current CEO has offered his resignation but nobody wants to accept it. How can Brian help the board to move forward ?

Six raisons qui militent en faveur du choix d’administrateurs externes au C.A. (jacquesgrisegouvernance.com)

Les « gardiens » de l’intégrité et de la bonne gouvernance*


C’est l’âge d’or des CFE (Certified Fraud examiners), des auditeurs internes, des juricomptables, des investigateurs privés et publics, des experts en informatique et des spécialistes en fraude. Comme je l’ai souligné il y a quelques semaines, ces professions sont en forte progression depuis que de nombreux scandales ont fait les manchettes et que diverses règlementations ont été édictées.

L’article ci-dessous, paru le 5 janvier 2013 dans The Economist, brosse un portrait assez concluant de l’évolution de ces pratiques d’investigation menées par les « gardiens de l’intégrité et de la bonne gouvernance« . On y fait mention de la croissance spectaculaire de la firme Kroll, l’une des leaders dans le domaine des investigations de nature corporative. The Economist explique pourquoi ces entreprises prospèrent dans le nouvel environnement de la règlementation en gouvernance : America’s Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, loi Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX), règlementation favorisant le « whistleblowing », etc.

Vous trouverez, ci-dessous, quelques extraits de cet excellent article que je vous invite à lire au complet.

The bloodhounds of capitalism

« SHERLOCK HOLMES once remarked that: “It is my business to know what other people don’t know.” These days, detective work is a huge business. Thanks to globalisation, there is a lot that companies would like to know but don’t, such as: is our prospective partner in Jakarta a crook?

Corporate detectives sniff out the facts, analyse them, share them with clients and pocket fat fees. Yet, oddly for a multi-billion-dollar industry devoted to discovering the truth, little is known about private investigators. So your correspondent took up his magnifying glass and set off in pursuit of the bloodhounds of capitalism.

The best-known is Kroll, founded by Jules Kroll, a former assistant district attorney, in 1972. Along with a dozen or so rivals, it can undertake assignments anywhere in the world, at short notice, deploying teams of former cops and prosecutors, computer whizzes, accountants, investigative journalists and others. These firms are the big dogs of private detection. The industry has, ahem, a long tail of thousands of smaller ones. The precise number is unknown since the business is unregulated in some countries.

There is plenty of work to go round. Assignments linked to mergers and acquisitions have dwindled along with the number of deals, but other areas are expanding. One big source of work is the growing complexity of business regulation. Multinationals can never be sure that some employee, somewhere has not violated America’s Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, or some other anti-bribery law. Corporate compliance departments often bring gumshoes in to assist their own investigations… An increase in whistleblowing has created more work…

… In 2012 Kroll announced plans to double the size of its R&D team in e-discovery and data recovery over the next five years. Mr Hartley says the headcount in his division, the firm’s investigative core, grew by 15% in 2011. The number of Certified Fraud Examiners (CFEs) in the world has grown by 72% since 2007, to 37,400. (One of them, Harry Markopolos, gave the profession street credibility by spotting the Madoff fraud long before regulators) ».

No One Would Listen (bryanxie.wordpress.com)

______________________________________________

*Je suis en congé jusqu’à la fin septembre. Durant cette période, j’ai décidé de rééditer les billets considérés comme étant les plus pertinents par les lecteurs de mon blogue (depuis le début des activités le 19 juillet 2011).

Faut-il revoir en profondeur les tâches des comités d’audit ?


Dans son dernier billet, Richard Leblanc pose une question fondamentale en matière de gestion des risques par le comité d’audit : Devez-vous revoir en profondeur les responsabilités du comité d’audit afin de mieux circonscrire la surveillance des risques ?

Au cours de la dernière décennie, on a assisté à plusieurs échecs, directement reliés aux défaillances des mécanismes de gestion des risques, notamment le manque de contrôle interne et l’absence d’une fonction d’auditeur interne. Traditionnellement, c’est le comité d’audit qui se voit confier la tâche de superviser les risques auxquels font face les entreprises. Mais, comme l’article le montre, il y a une multitude de risques à considérer, et ceux-ci ne sont pas tous d’ordre financier ! De plus, aucune règlementation ne spécifie que c’est le comité d’audit qui doit exercer cette activité. Si bien qu’il est fort possible que le comité ne soit pas toujours le mieux qualifié pour jouer ce rôle.

Dans son article, Richard Leblanc, identifie douze questions qu’un C.A. doit se poser à cet égard. Je vous invite donc à prendre connaissances de l’article paru sur son blogue le 24 février 2013. Qu’en pensez-vous ? Pose-t-on de trop grandes exigences aux comités d’audit ?

Does your Audit Committee Need a Reset?

« …Risk systems in many companies are immature. Look at BP, Wal-Mart, JP Morgan, HSBC, News of the World, Barclays, SNC Lavalin and MF Global. These are all risk management failures, which are turn are governance failures.

196028_388219694546440_755335974_n
196028_388219694546440_755335974_n (Photo credit: caclub.in)

There is good reason for risk management failure. Proper risk management requires internal controls to mitigate risk. (Internal controls are processes and procedures such as segregation of duties, documentation, authorization, supervision, physical safeguards, IT security and prevention of management override.) No one likes to be controlled. Risk management is not intrinsically profit-making. Therefore there is an inherent aversion to risk management by management. This is why regulators now are targeting boards with greater risk governance obligations because only the board has the authority to control management. Recent bank governance guidelines in Canada require much stronger risk oversight by boards and audit committees. Recent Ontario Securities Commission guidelines offer advice to boards and audit committees with operations in emerging markets, coming out of the Sino-Forest debacle ».

Articles reliés au sujet :

Le comité d’audit du C.A. | Une tâche exigeante que vous apprendrez à aimer (jacquesgrisegouvernance.com)

Is the audit committee to blame for defects in internal audit? (normanmarks.wordpress.com)

According to a KPMG study, Audit Committees, Risk Management and Internal Audit need to Shape Up! (normanmarks.wordpress.com)

Internal audit risk (normanmarks.wordpress.com)

Knowledgeable Directors’ views on the Value of AUDIT (surenrajdotcom.wordpress.com)

L’efficacité de l’audit interne dans le secteur des services financiers | Recommandations de IIA UK


Vous trouverez, ci-dessous, un document de consultation de l’IIA UK, partagé par Denis Lefort, CPA, CA, CIA, CRMA, concernant le rôle de l’audit interne dans le secteur financier. On y retrouvera plusieurs recommandation à l’intention de l’Institut des auditeurs internes certifiés, dont quelques-unes controversées. Je vous invite à lire ce document.

Effective Internal Audit in the Financial Services Sector

The Rewarding Profession of Internal Audit / C...
The Rewarding Profession of Internal Audit / Corporate Management (Photo credit: danielleherner)

« In the course of our consultation, the Committee asked a range of questions around the role, scope and position of internal audit in the organisation’s governance and risk management frameworks. The responses received highlight the range of practice across the industry, with a varying degree of uniformity of practice and aspiration between organisations.

There was a general consensus around the importance of the independence of Internal Audit; both independence from Executive Management authority, from the Risk Management and Compliance functions, and from executive decision making responsibilities. There was also strong support for an unrestricted scope of Internal Audit, and for greater clarity and consistency of Internal Audit’s role in auditing areas such as strategy, culture, risk appetite and key corporate events.

Areas in which there was a greater divergence of response include the role and extent of Internal Audit involvement in challenging strategic decision making; whether there are circumstances in which it would be appropriate for Internal Audit to report to a Board Risk Committee rather than tothe Audit Committee, the nature of Internal Audit’s Executive reporting line and who this line should report into (e.g. CEO / CFO); and the appropriateness of the Chief Internal Auditor having the right to attend Executive Committee meetings. In these areas, the Committee has formed a view based on both the responses received and Committee discussion ».

Strongest Outlook for Internal Audit Resources in Five Years, Reports The Institute of Internal Auditors (virtual-strategy.com)

New UK internal auditor code seen needed to restore credibility (uk.reuters.com)

Les « gardiens » de l’intégrité et de la bonne gouvernance


C’est l’âge d’or des CFE (Certified Fraud examiners), des auditeurs internes, des juricomptables, des investigateurs privés et publics, des experts en informatique et des spécialistes en fraude. Comme je l’ai souligné il y a quelques semaines, ces professions sont en forte progression depuis que de nombreux scandales ont fait les manchettes et que diverses règlementations ont été édictées.

L’article ci-dessous, paru le 5 janvier 2013 dans The Economist, brosse un portrait assez concluant de l’évolution de ces pratiques d’investigation menées par les « gardiens de l’intégrité et de la bonne gouvernance« . On y fait mention de la croissance spectaculaire de la firme Kroll, l’une des leaders dans le domaine des investigations de nature corporative. The Economist explique pourquoi ces entreprises prospèrent dans le nouvel environnement de la règlementation en gouvernance : America’s Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, loi Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX), règlementation favorisant le « whistleblowing », etc.

Vous trouverez, ci-dessous, quelques extraits de cet excellent article que je vous invite à lire au complet.

The bloodhounds of capitalism

 

« SHERLOCK HOLMES once remarked that: “It is my business to know what other people don’t know.” These days, detective work is a huge business. Thanks to globalisation, there is a lot that companies would like to know but don’t, such as: is our prospective partner in Jakarta a crook?

Corporate detectives sniff out the facts, analyse them, share them with clients and pocket fat fees. Yet, oddly for a multi-billion-dollar industry devoted to discovering the truth, little is known about private investigators. So your correspondent took up his magnifying glass and set off in pursuit of the bloodhounds of capitalism.

The best-known is Kroll, founded by Jules Kroll, a former assistant district attorney, in 1972. Along with a dozen or so rivals, it can undertake assignments anywhere in the world, at short notice, deploying teams of former cops and prosecutors, computer whizzes, accountants, investigative journalists and others. These firms are the big dogs of private detection. The industry has, ahem, a long tail of thousands of smaller ones. The precise number is unknown since the business is unregulated in some countries.

There is plenty of work to go round. Assignments linked to mergers and acquisitions have dwindled along with the number of deals, but other areas are expanding. One big source of work is the growing complexity of business regulation. Multinationals can never be sure that some employee, somewhere has not violated America’s Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, or some other anti-bribery law. Corporate compliance departments often bring gumshoes in to assist their own investigations… An increase in whistleblowing has created more work…

… In 2012 Kroll announced plans to double the size of its R&D team in e-discovery and data recovery over the next five years. Mr Hartley says the headcount in his division, the firm’s investigative core, grew by 15% in 2011. The number of Certified Fraud Examiners (CFEs) in the world has grown by 72% since 2007, to 37,400. (One of them, Harry Markopolos, gave the profession street credibility by spotting the Madoff fraud long before regulators) ».

Fraud, not mistakes, at heart of bad research (dispatch.com)

No One Would Listen (bryanxie.wordpress.com)

Le contrôle interne dans les OBNL !


Dans ce billet, je fais référence à un très bon article de Richard Leblanc, paru récemment dans CanadianBusiness.com, qui met l’accent sur la sensibilisation du Conseil à l’importance accrue du contrôle interne dans les OBNL.

L’auteur donne quelques bons exemples d’organisations où le contrôle interne a été défaillant et il montre que les OBNL sont particulièrement vulnérables à des malversations, surtout lorsque l’on sait que le contrôle interne est à peu près inexistant !

C’est la responsabilité du conseil d’administration de s’assurer que les bons contrôles sont en place. L’intérêt public l’exige !

Non-profit boards need a hands-on approach

 

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Non-profit and charitable organizations have stretched resources, which makes them particularly vulnerable to fraudsters.

The Salvation Army is currently going through such a situation after a whistleblower informed the organization that $2 million in donated toys had disappeared from—or wasn’t delivered to—their main warehouse in north Toronto over roughly two years.

Fortunately, the police have recovered the majority of stolen items, but not before the Salvation Army fired David Rennie, the executive director of the warehouse, last week. Rennie turned himself into detectives on Monday and was charged with multiple offences, including theft and breach of trust.

It’s highly unlikely that 100,000 toys were carried out under one’s arm. Instead, it’s possible that internal controls over the segregation of duties and the safeguarding of assets were inadequate. Theft happens when there is opportunity, incentives and a lack of internal controls. A board happens to control and approve all these factors, especially the latter one. The trouble is that many boards aren’t exercising their power over internal controls.

After the XL Foods crisis, I spoke to a room full of directors on beef association boards in Calgary. “Do you approve the internal controls over food safety?” I asked. Not many hands went up. “Do you take tours of the plant, see the production line and talk to workers? Do you have an internal audit function that tests the design and effectiveness of internal controls? If so, does it report directly to you?” Again, not many hands went up.

A proper board will want to see confirmation and accountability of the internal controls over all material risks, which aren’t just financial. This includes operational controls, such as the line in a meat plant, or the warehouse with toys in it.

Internal controls basically constrain management. No one likes being controlled and there’s an obvious aversion to management controlling itself. But in a non-profit environment with tight resources and volunteers, vulnerabilities can be exploited by fraudsters. Controls need to be person-proofed and require a diligent board with authority and competency.

Sadly, the Salvation Army was exploited to the tune of $2 million. The organization has a national advisory board, but it’s unclear whether it has a proper, functioning board of directors that oversees risk and controls. Advisory committees advise, but cannot direct.

By exercising greater authority over internal controls, the Salvation Army’s board may have been able to prevent this situation from happening in the first place.

 

Comment les C.A. doivent-ils aborder la gestion des risques dans les pays émergents ?


Voici un excellent article de A. Yoost, membre de la NACD et associé retraité de PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), sur les risques rencontrés par les conseils d’administration d’entreprises opérant dans des pays émergents ou en voie de développement. Les points abordés et les risques encourus sont les suivants :

  1. La corruption
  2. L’opacité de l’information
  3. Les différences culturelles, les us et coutumes
  4. L’influence et l’action des gouvernements
  5. La pénurie de talents et la difficulté de les développer
  6. La protection de la propriété intellectuelle
  7. Le manque de diversité des partenaires
  8. Le coût élevé des ressources

 

Board Oversight of Risks in Emerging-Country Markets

English: Organic Business Guide regional, glob...
English: Organic Business Guide regional, global markets. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

« Emerging-country markets represent important growth opportunities with inherently unique risks. Agility in these markets is required. Investments and commitments will continue to evolve from new, exciting opportunities into business imperatives. Although the growth prospects can be seductive, board members need to understand the nature, breadth and depth of the risks, and to provide thoughtful commentary on the challenges and mitigations. The most important task for the board in overseeing risks in these markets is to exercise skepticism regarding the company’s strategy and plans by challenging the assumptions and critically assessing the progress ».

Conseil d’administration | Démissionner ou rester ?


Voici une vidéo très intéressante de Lucy Marcus interviewé par Axel Threlfall sur les positions que doivent prendre les administrateurs lorsque leur entreprise rencontre de graves difficultés. Comment éviter l’hémoragie qui peut en découler ? Faut-il encourager les départs de certains administrateurs ? Comment, et surtout qui, doit gérer cette crise interne ?  

Les administrateurs sont souvent confrontés à un dilemme : démissionner ou rester et affronter la tempête ! Mais dans certains cas, ils n’ont pas le choix : on leur montre la sortie. La capsule vidéo tente de répondre à ces questions délicates. Vous pouvez aussi visionner les autres capsules In the Boardroom de Lucy Marcus sur Youtube.com.

English: Virginia Beach Convention Center Boar...
English: Virginia Beach Convention Center Boardroom (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

In the Boardroom with Lucy Marcus: Director Contagion

 

« As you know, I believe that shareholders should have a role to play in the board and in holding the board to account, and indeed I’d like to see them do this more actively. (I like what Catherine Howarth of FairPensions had to say on the topic when I interviewed her for “In the Boardroom with Lucy Marcus” http://bit.ly/Uele9E). But equally importantly, I think that directors need to hold ourselves and one another to account as well. As we sit around the table we know who is engaged, active, and adding value, and we need to be frank and open about expectations and what happens when we fall short. I wrote a column about it “You’ve got to know when to go” http://bit.ly/Ol3F5f As I noted: There are several mechanisms that can be put into place to make this process easier for boards to deal with, including term limits, clear job descriptions and regular board evaluations; but really, it shouldn’t take that for directors to figure out the right thing to do — and do it. I think the more we talk about it openly, including in forums such as these, the better ». 

Le Board : dernier rempart | ultimement responsable !


Voici une excellente prise de position de Richard Leblanc dans Listed Magazine à propos du rôle du conseil d’administration dans les cas de fraudes, malversations, corruption, contrôles internes déficients, problèmes éthique, etc. L’article explique que le C.A. est ultimement responsable de la conformité, de la surveillance des processus de contrôle et de la conduite éthique des dirigeants. Comme le dit Leblanc,  « The buck stops at the Board… Saying the “directors didn’t know” is no excuse ».

Headquarters of SNC-Lavalin engineering firm i...

The buck stops at the board

Un extrait de l’article :

« If the CEO of SNC-Lavalin allegedly overrode his own CFO and breached the company’s code of ethics in authorizing $56 million of questionable payments to undisclosed agents that the federal Canadian police are now investigating, did the board of directors of SNC-Lavalin have a role to play? If RBC, as alleged by a U.S. regulator, made “material false statements” in connection with non-arm’s length trades, did the board of directors of RBC have a role to play?

The answer is “Yes” in these and similar cases. Speaking generally, as all allegations have yet to be proven, it is not credible to argue—as some do—that boards do not have a determinative role to play in compliance and reputational failure, or that directors did not know. A board is the only body that has the legal authority and power to control management and designate all compliance and control systems. It alone acts or fails to act. A board is paid to take all reasonable steps consistent with best practices, to ensure that it does know ».

Capsules vidéos du CAS en gouvernance – La juricomptabilité et le développement durable


Le Collège des administrateurs de sociétés est fier de présenter la suite de sa première série « Capsules d’experts ». Huit experts du Collège partagent une réflexion le temps de 2 à 3 minutes en se prononçant sur des sujets d’actualité en gouvernance. Nous avons déjà présenté les quatres premières capsules la semaine dernière. La semaine prochaine, le Collège dévoilera les deux dernières capsules de sa série de huit.

Deux nouvelles « capsules d’experts » sont maintenant en ligne; ayant pour thèmes « La juricomptabilité » par M. François Filion et « Le développement durable » par Mme Johanne Gélinas.
Série « capsules d'experts »

À venir la semaine prochaine :

Dévoilement des deux dernières capsules

par André Courville

Associé principal, Ernst & Young

par Yan Cimon

Professeur agrégé en management, Université Laval

Le retour des comportements non-éthiques et cupides de certains CEO !


Très bon article publié dans CNBC sur le retour des comportements non-éthiques et cupides de plusieurs CEO (PDG) de grandes corporations américaines. On constate que les leçons de la crise de 2008 n’ont pas été comprises par tous les gestionnaires. À l’âge d’Internet, plus aucun CEO n’est à l’abri de la vérification d’informations fausses ou trompeuses, comme en témoigne le congédiement de Thomson, président de Yahoo, à la suite de la falsification de son CV.

« For some experts on corporate governance, the rise in scandal comes as executives mistakenly think the coast is clear after the increased corporate oversight following the credit implosion in 2008. They’ve been wrong, and are paying a huge price ».

CEOs Gone Wild: What’s Wrong With Corporate America?

« Four years after the financial crisis exploded and resulted in a regulatory clampdown, bad behavior is back in corporate boardrooms and C-suites, generating embarrassing headlines and posing the threat of even more rules…

The threshold for materiality that requires disclosure and discussions has simply changed and has become lower, Corsell says. « Corporate executives are surprised by it and undoubtedly uncomfortable with it on some level. » Those not conscious of the new playing field risk the fate of Thompson, McClendon and others caught in questionable practices.

Play ethically and professionally with both your friends and foes, advises Wendy Patrick, a lecturer specializing in business ethics for the management department at San Diego State University. « It is that high level of professionalism that not only sets the tone in your company but also solidifies the relationships we have with our friends and enemies alike. »

Comités d’audit – Enquêtes internes : Dix manières de se préparer


Voici un autre excellent document produit par Deloitte qui met l’accent sur le rôle des comité d’audit en ce qui a trait aux enquêtes externes. On y présente succinctement dix façons de se préparer aux enquêtes internes.

     

Comité de vérification en bref - Deloitte

« Une préparation diligente peut aider une société à enquêter sur des allégations d’actes répréhensibles de manière rapide et efficace. Les membres du comité de vérification sont souvent responsables de la supervision des enquêtes internes concernant les allégations sérieuses d’actes répréhensibles touchant les questions financières ou la haute direction. Les dix points qui suivent peuvent être utiles pour établir un plan d’action efficace avant que ne se produise l’inattendu ».

Comités d’audit – Enquêtes internes : Dix manières de se préparer

Comment le Board peut-il aider à prévenir la fraude dans les entreprises ?


Très bonne analyse de Richard Leblanc dans Canadian Business sur les moyens à prendre en vue de prévenir la fraude dans les entreprises. C’est de plus en plus une responsabilité du Board de s’assurer que les organisations mettent en place les bons mécanismes de surveillance.

Prévenir la fraude dans les organisations – Does Canada have a…

« The issue raises many questions, but among them are a couple I’m particularly interested in: do directors on boards play a role in detecting and deterring fraud, and can they be held responsible, or even liable, if they do not fulfill this role properly? Increasingly, the answer to both is yes, especially given new U.K. and U.S. legislation following the financial crisis.

A bank director once told me that the number one role of a director was to watch for fraud. That may be true. So here is a list of 10 red flags and suggestions based on my work with companies accused of fraud or other malfeasance—some were pretty high profile ».

Lire l’article pour connaître ces dix mises en garde.

Procès Nortel : Le Board est-il responsable ?


À lire, l’excellent article de Sophie Cousineau publé dans la Presse le 17 janvier 2012.

Le C.A. de Nortel est-il responsable de la débâcle et des fraudes ? Vous, en tant qu’administrateurs de sociétés, quel est votre point de vue sur la situation ?

Procès Nortel : Le Board est-il responsable ?

« Employées avec intelligence et modération, les mesures incitatives au rendement peuvent avoir une certaine utilité. Mais le conseil d’administration de Nortel a complètement travesti ces outils pour récompenser des dirigeants accros aux options qui cherchaient le profit rapide sans penser aux lendemains.

C’est le procès de ces administrateurs nonchalants qu’on devrait faire. Malheureusement ou heureusement, récompenser l’échec et la cupidité n’est pas une infraction au Code criminel ».