Wiersholm gathered trade and industry for a day with anti-corruption on the agenda

Corruption and non-compliance are matters which many are concerned with. Wiersholm's Jan Fougner was the initiator of Oslo Compliance Forum and in today's conference, he set the Minister of Trade and Industry a challenge.

Compliance is a highly demanding and challenging field. We cannot introduce separate Norwegian rules, but rather need to follow an international standard. In other countries, extensive reports have been prepared to serve as a basis for guidance in identifying what is considered as financial crime and when you become accountable. Here in Norway, however, only a few statements have been made on the matter and there is nobody to give guidance. Consequently, the Minister of Trade and Industry, Monica Mæland, should take the appropriate steps and look at the possibility of achieving better regulation," Fougner said in his introduction to the conference, which has now become an annual forum for trade and industry and public administration.

The panel in Oslo Compliance Forum consisted of (from right): Wiersholm's Georg A. Engebretsen; Marianne Djupeland, Chief Public Prosecutor in the Norwegian National Authority for Investigation and Prosecution of Economic and Environmental Crime (ØKOKRIM); Catrine Smith Ihenacho, Chief Compliance Officer in Statoil; Pål Wien Espen, Head of Group Legal and Compliance in Telenor; and Wiersholm's Marit Berger Røsland and Jan Fougner.

Companies at risk without sound compliance routines

The risks are considerable and the consequences for companies subject to financial crime can be dramatic. There is little doubt that this is a topic which Norwegian trade and industry is concerned with. In Hotel Bristol, a full and attentive audience listened to the presentation by Pål Wien Espen of Telenor on his employer's assessments and ethical dilemmas.

Should we only make decisions which preclude us from taking part in the development of less stable countries – or would we then be making a big socio-economic mistake?

Wiersholm's Marit Berger Røsland and Georg A. Engebretsen work extensively as advisers in relation to the preparation of sound compliance and due diligence routines. They engaged the audience with their account of the circumstances and acts on the part of companies' business associates for which the companies themselves may end up accountable.

"Norwegian trade and industry must take the danger of corruption in foreign countries a lot more seriously. All companies need business associates, and in this forum, we seek to communicate what kind of investigations businesses need to perform. We stress the importance of businesses checking the suppliers, sales agents, joint venture partners, legal advisers, consultants and various other types of service providers of their business associates," Røsland says.

"It can be difficult to get a proper picture on one's own, and so it may be a good investment to seek professional assistance to establish effective routines. A higher degree of vigilance is expected in connection with business activities in countries with a low score on Transparency International's corruption index," Røsland says.

Speaker Barry Vitou, Partner in Pinsent Marsons LLP, sums up this year's Oslo Compliance Forum in his article "Prosecutors give credit for compliance programs in Norway too".