January 14, 2016
Compliance Champion Spotlight
What is a Compliance Champion? A Compliance Champion is an individual or organization committed to fostering and raising the standards of anti-bribery compliance. TRACE Trends will include posts featuring Compliance Champions from time to time.
We hope you enjoy the following entry from this week’s Compliance Champion, and TRACE Partner Law Firm!
Today’s guest blog post is written by Mr. Roland Abeng, Barrister and Solicitor of the Supreme Court of Cameroon, and Managing Partner of the Abeng Law Firm, TRACE’s Partner Law Firm in Cameroon. Mr. Abeng was also, until 2013, Vice Chair of the Africa Committee of the International Section of the American Bar Association, which acts as outside counsel for a considerable number of foreign companies operating in Cameroon.
Mr. Abeng and the Abeng Law Firm are not only key players in Cameroon’s legal arena, but also are at the forefront in advocacy for good governance and anti-corruption, especially in FCPA and UKBA compliance.
Cameroon consistently ranks high on corruption and bribery indices such as Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index, World Justice Project’s Rule of Law Index, and TRACE International’s TRACE Matrix. Cameroon features amongst countries where corruption and respect for the rule of law are major problems throughout society and government.
Although bribery is a crime in Cameroon and there has been considerable effort by the government to fight corruption, the general public perceives these efforts as mere “window dressing.” This perception has arisen because government actions have been mostly concentrated on misappropriation of public funds. Ministers and managers of state-owned corporations have been prosecuted and put in prison, but the customs or tax or police official who collects hundreds of thousands in facilitation payments and bribes is allowed relative impunity. Cameroon would make great strides in its fight against corruption the day it would compel its government officials/servants to declare their assets in compliance with the constitution.
Despite the challenges, things are changing for the better. Cameroonian legislation sanctions bribery and corruption severely. For example, misappropriation of public funds is subject to USD 1,000 in fines and life imprisonment. Unlike in the past, Cameroonians realize that it is now very possible to be jailed for a corruption-related offense. Therefore, simply insisting on a properly established receipt for a requested payment can sometimes be enough to successfully deflect a government official’s bribe demand. However, due to the institutionalization of corruption in some sectors of government, there is always a possibility that the receipt might just be fake. Therefore, it is very important to be versed with some of the local usages and customs and seek the advice of a local counsel with expertise in Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and UK Bribery Act when appropriate.
For more on this topic, please see the following resources:
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