One core element of an effective compliance program is auditing to detect illegal conduct. In other words, the management board needs to be checking to see what is happening and whether the people acting for the company are committing violations. For antitrust violations it is best to have experts in antitrust law.
In particular, internal audits are increasingly being conducted:
- in advance of a deal
- where a company wants to test the effectiveness of its compliance measures
- in response to the potential charges
Antitrust internal audits conducted outside the deal and without the pressure from the regulator can be an extremely effective way of uncovering and managing antitrust risk across a business. This is particularly important if a company has the dominant position on the market.
Carrying out an effective antitrust audit requires a well-thought-out strategy. It is important to think about it in advance. Getting things right from the start will increase the chances for an effective audit.
Modern approaches to internal auditing include reviews of all aspects of a business. It should be remembered that the antitrust compliance program should be just one element of a broader, corporate-wide compliance and ethics program. Assuming the right degree of integration within the overall compliance and ethics program, antitrust should be seenas part of a broader compliance and ethics approach to the internal audit organization. The starting point for this process should be a high-level, interdepartmental compliance and ethics committee, chaired by the compliance officer.
As the market situation is getting tougher, companies need to be prepared for ever closer scrutiny. The trend will continue. Companies need to plan ahead and put their plans into action.
Following from this planning and coordination, there would be a training program for the employees on what the law is and what red flags should they be looking for. There would also be written materials as a guide for this process. The education program could, for example, focus on the company’s top 10 compliance risks already identified through the compliance and ethics program’s risk assessment process.
The outcome of the internal audit should be a report giving the management a full picture of the company and conclusions what needs to be done.
Even if audits do not reveal any wrong-doing or misconduct, the overall outcome should be positive and advantageous for the company because it shows that the company is determined to respect the antitrust regulations and that it will not tolerate unlawful conduct.It iscertainlyworthconsidering.