AmCham’s event series focused on Corporate Compliance, was at its fourth iteration on 4th October, 2018 at the Hilton Budapest. Titled Managing the Fallout: How to Mitigate the Negative Impact of a Scandal, a diverse selection of seasoned experts shared their experiences with the audience at the event on the nature, anticipation and management of emergent crises.

Following the introductory remarks of AmCham President Dr. Farkas Bársony, we had the privilege of hearing US Ambassador David Cornstein’s opening speech, in which he lauded the important role of Corporate Compliance experts in advising Businessmen in their deals.

Following the Ambassador’s remarks, the first keynote speech was delivered by Angela Crawford, Chair of Litigation for DLA Piper’s Miami office and member of the firm’s Global Compliance Steering Committee, Leadership Alliance for Women (LAW) Steering Committee and Co-Chair and Co-Founder of the Women of Color Resource Group. At DLA Piper, she regularly conducts cross-border and domestic internal investigations for corporate clients based on allegations of compliance and regulatory violations and employee misconduct. She advises clients on the implementation and enhancement of anti-corruption and compliance programs, policies and training.

Ms. Crawford led her presentation up by summarizing to the audience the essence of the FCPA and other anti-bribery laws (which have been discussed in-detail at the previous Compliance Conferences), but her main focus was on “The Eye of the Beholder” perspective, an engaging analysis on what actually goes through the minds of company employees - be they middle-management or top executives - who engage in corrupt activities. The common element is that offenders often don’t realize the gravity of their behavior and are often surprised that what seemed like “a small price to pay” has serious consequences for the company and themselves as well. Ms. Crawford then gave some practical advice on implementing mechanisms to prevent such behavior within and organization.

The second keynote was given by FBI Supervisory Special Agent Tim Thibault, from the Bureau’s Washington Field Office. He spent 15 of his 22 years at FBI as a case agent assigned to a public corruption squad investigating high-level executive and legislative corruption. Prior to that, he was a member of the Washington Field Office’s Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) Team for 12 years, to include 7 years spent as an Assistant Team Leader.

Mr. Thibault played a significant role in the investigation of Congressman William J. Jefferson and other individuals, a very public corruption case in the United States that resulted in the trial and conviction of the Congressman. Mr. Thibault not only gave the audience a fascinating re-telling of the case from an insider’s perspective, but also shared his thoughts on the social “hidden costs” of such high-profile cases as well as corruption in general.

After a short networking break, the event continued with a panel discussion moderated by Judit Budai, Partner of Szecskay Attorneys at Law and Dávid Kőhegyi, Head of Compliance and Investigations at DLA Piper, Hungary. Joining them in the discussion were the two keynote speakers and Mihály Hardy, Communication Director of Budapest Airport and Nicholas Sarvari, Managing Partner at CNS Risk Ltd. The topic of the discussion was how to effectively manage and communicate during times of crisis. The experts agreed that although 10 or even 5 years ago, there was still some time to formulate a crisis response strategy between the time of an incident and the resulting public blowback, those times have passed. With people’s instant access to social media, news of incidents may go public sooner than they are reported through internal company channels. Therefore the quality of crisis response will escalate or mitigate the crisis quicker than ever, but a good response is only possible if the company has clear pre-set protocols for a variety of scenarios in place, prior to having to put out the flames.

We would like to thank DLA Piper, Budapest Airport and CNS Risk for making this event possible.