Experience shows that many companies do not include their business partners in their compliance programme. An omission with high risks.

Legal provisions such as the German Commercial Code or the Stock Corporation Act stipulate that companies, but also individual executive bodies and employees, can be held liable for the unlawful conduct of business or contractual partners.

A practical example shows the basic problem: a company uses external sales partners who are remunerated on a commission basis. Their earnings thus depend on the sales they broker. If a sales partner now commits fraudulent acts in order to successfully broker business - such as bribing the potential client - the behaviour of the business partner falls back on the company, even if it has not itself acted unlawfully here. The company is threatened with financial and criminal consequences as well as a serious loss of reputation.

Business partners are often not included

Many companies are only inadequately prepared for this risk. The study "Compliance Management - the entrepreneurial challenge" by AGAMON Consulting GmbH(www.agamon-consulting.de) shows the deficits of medium-sized companies in this respect. In the majority of the companies surveyed, 100% of their compliance programmes are directed at managers and employees. Suppliers and subcontractors are included at about 75%, while business partners are only considered at about 25%. It is known that external parties are at least involved in about half of the economic offences.

An often underestimated risk

"The risks that can emanate from business partners such as intermediaries, sub-dealers and advisors should not be underestimated. Their compliance violations can lead to fines and claims for damages. Further consequences can range from exclusion from public contracts to criminal prosecution. Companies jeopardise their image and reputation if they do not choose their partners carefully.

The compliance programme of every company should therefore also include business partner compliance management in the sense of a holistic approach.

Eckart Achauer

Studied law and business administration, postgraduate studies to become a Master of Business Administration (MBA). In-service training to become a European Quality Manager (DGQ), a mediator specialising in business mediation and a Certified Compliance Manager (TÜV).

Eckart Achauer worked for about 10 years in the international insurance industry in the management of a Swiss insurance group in various functions (claims department, sales, assistance) before switching to management and business consulting in 1997.

As a consultant and managing director of various consulting companies, Mr Achauer has specialised thematically in organisational and process optimisation as well as in the development and implementation of management systems - quality management, risk and compliance management.

For the HR Consult Group, Mr Achauer is responsible for the area of compliance management. Within the framework of compliance audits, he analyses their organisational "compliance fitness", he sensitises and trains the management, executives and employees and supports the companies in setting up and implementing individual compliance management systems. In doing so, he always takes into account the specific risk situation of the companies. Due to his many years of experience as a manager and consultant, he is very familiar with the entrepreneurial challenges from practice.

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