Congress Report – V. Viadrina Compliance Congress “Compliance Across the Globe”

The V. Viadrina Compliance Congress took place on the 4th-5th July 2017 at the Bucerius Law School Hamburg and was organized by the Viadrina Compliance Center in collaboration with the Compliance Academy Münster. 28 experts from all over the globe debated over two days within five different panels and focused on current issues of cross-border compliance, existing solutions and new developments.

Opening and welcome remarks

Among the distinguished opening speakers were Prof. Dr. Alexander Wöll, president of the European University Viadrina Frankfurt (Oder), Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. mult. Katharina Boele-Woelk, president of the Bucerius Law School, Dr. Rainer Markfort, board member of the Deutsches Institut für Compliance (DICO), Noor Naqschbandi, director of the Alliance for Integrity and Prof. Dr. Bartosz Makowicz, the director of the Viadrina Compliance Center, who all gave a warm welcome to the panelists and participants.

Keynote 1: How ethics can support effective compliance and anti-corruption programs

The first keynote speech was presented by Ousmane Diagana. As the Vice President for Ethics and Business Conduct (EBC) of the World Bank Group, he concentrated on the organization's approach for disseminating international standards and addressing the dark triad - nepotism, corruption and poor performance.

Panel 1: Global compliance, local challenges – different jurisdiction, different values and one culture of integrity – a myth or the only way to combat non-compliance?

Prof. Dr. Peter Fissenewert (Partner, Buse Heberer Fromm Rechtsanwälte Steuerberater PartG mbB), who moderated the first panel handed over to Anatoly Yakorev (Director of the Center for Business Ethics and Compliance, International University Moscow). He explained the Russian perspective admitting it is still "one of the most corruptive countries". In his view, ethical leadership and behavior should be at first place.

DSC_0193Henning Glaser (Director, German-Southeast Asian Center of Excellence for Public Policy and Good Governance Bangkok) pointed out corruption in Thailand and South-East Asia where contradiction of ethics in business is huge. Therefore, global demands and standards should be in touch to deal with the reality on the local ground.

Subsequently, the Chinese view was highlighted by Henry Chen (Editor in Chief, The Compliance Reviews). Even though Chinese law forbids any cash gifts and defines the threshold for allowed gifts up to 1000 CNY, businesses cannot stick to the rules yet. His optimistic conclusion was: "don't lose your heart on ethics and compliance."

Dr. Tobias Teicke (Counsel, CMS Hasche Sigle Partnerschaft von Rechtsanwälten und Steuerberatern mbB) showed that cultural differences and big companies which lack to create common values are the major problems. Open dialogue is key and only through adjustments to local compliance measures compliance can be brought to live.

Keynote 2: Towards a holistic approach of business integrity and the fight against corruption

Nicola Bonucci as the Director for Legal Affairs and the coordinator for accession at the OECD stated that "compliance and ethics are not contradictory". To address this challenge, the Anti-Corruption Ethics and Compliance Handbook for Business was developed by and for companies - companies and CEOs are the origin of most problems, but also part of the solution.

Panel 2: Doing, acting, improving, instead of talking, discussing and waiting – state of art for anti-corruption strategies in multinational organizations

The moderator of the second panel, Dr. Rainer Markfort (Board member, Deutsches Institut für Compliance (DICO)), announced theDSC_0065 panelists and introduced Prof. Dr. Han-Kyun Rho (Professor, International Anti-Corruption Academy). In his opinion consciousness is the biggest advantage and should be used in compliance efforts. Acting should be done on the stage of direct reactions rather than in organizations.

Morality as the key role was underlined by Shahzad Khan (Group Head of Corporate Governance & Compliance, Mubadala Investment Company, United Arab Emirates). It is therefore essential to stop talking about compliance and take it one step further – culture, accountability and responsibility.

Gerard Kuster (Counsel, Transparency International) referred to measures for compliance systems presented by Transparency International. The organization itself is constantly trying to be a good example for authorities, organizations and companies.

Finally, Michael Kayser (Managing Director, Idox Compliance) from Germany rounded off the panel and focused on the change of people’s behavior. He depicted that "people work for people", in the next instance "people work for companies". Therefore, he criticized that there are enough guidelines, conducts and training – “it´s time for the organizations to act”.

Keynote 3: Current Challenges in International Trade Compliance

Gabriel Kurt (Managing Director, AWB International) summarized current challenges of supply chains and the growth of multi-national companies. He underlined the requirements of being aware of Customer Service is becoming more important to participate in the import and export business. Also, he defined seven groups of barriers in the trade area: Import and Export declaration, Customs data management, Prohibitions and restrictions, Export controls, Anti-Dumping, Free Trade Agreements and Customs Valuation.

Panel 3: International trade compliance – export controls and customs in the era of terrorism

DSC_0152Prof. Hans-Michael Wolffgang (Institute of Customs and International Trade Law, University of Münster), the moderator of the third panel, gave the floor to Deming Zhao (Senior Partner, HaoLiWen Partners), who talked about the Customs Risk Surveillance Center, dual use items and export control practices in China. He confirmed that government authorities expect the observance of the law, as well as elsewhere, but the culture makes it challenging to adhere compliance regulations strictly.

Gabriel Kurt (Managing Director, AWB International) pointed out that it depends on local definition whether corruption is tolerated or not and supported the cooperation of different authorities. Consequently, he advocated for the future model of allowing authorities to view the whole process of export measures.

Prof. Dr. Achim Rogmann (Ostfalia University of Applied Science) from Germany referred to the balance of customs framework to achieve free trade and protection. He showed an overview of how customs authorities work and handle shipping.

Joelle Friedmann (Practitioner in international trade issues, France) showed which advantages can arise from a good cooperation between customs departments and companies with implemented customs control mechanisms. Despite the investments, it becomes much more efficient to trade as a trusted importer on the mid and long-term.

Keynote 4 – Rewarding Compliance as a game changer in the fight against corruption – the B20 recommendations

Dr. Klaus Moosmayer (Chief Compliance Officer, SIEMENS AG) opened the second conference day with his keynote speech about the unique setting of the B20 Structure and its recommendations: establish beneficial ownership transparency, recognize compliance efforts, enhance responsible business conduct on infrastructure projects. In addition, a system of self-disclosure and rewards should be installed to improve law enforcement. Finally, small business should be more open for compliance culture and proposed joint-compliance standards.

Panel 4: Penalties or rewards – how legislators and justice should support the sustainable compliance culture

DSC_0102Prof. Dr. Christoph Brömmelmeyer (European University Viadrina Frankfurt (Oder)) led the moderation of the fourth panel by questioning rewarding systems, self-disclosure and self-cleaning and introduced Dr. Sophie Bings (Counsel, Deloitte Legal), who started with U.S. sentencing guidelines and explained how effective the Base Offence Level works to reduce fines. She highlighted visible rewarding and special legal protection to promote sustainable compliance.

Magdalena Sobon-Stasiak (Compliance Officer, ArcelorMittal Poland S.A) discussed new compliance regulations in Poland. Due to these amendments, the protection of CCO and the awareness among business partners and suppliers has risen significantly.

The Spanish point of view was represented by Alain Casanovas Ysla (Board Member, Asociación Española de Compliance). After an overview of the legal compliance development, he elaborated on the second amendment of the criminal court which introduced a compulsory criminal compliance program in 2015. Since then a properly implement compliance program is rewarded in the case of infringement.

Prof. Dr. Giovani Agostini Saavedra (Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Rio Grande do Sul, Saavedra & Gottschefsky Advogados) admitted in his opening statement that Brazil has a problem with corruption, but rejected clearly that it has no culture of corruption and bribery. In his opinion, only effective, functional, strong and independent penalties based on the rule of law can help to build a sustainable compliance culture.

Keynote 5: Compliance and Integrity in Africa: Status quo and challenges

In his keynote speech, Dr. Stefan Liebing (Director, German-African Business Association) described that Africa is not only about diseases, corruption and bribes, but also about population growth, infrastructure, skyscrapers and vibrant IT-startup business. He emphasized that prejudices about corruption and compliance problems lead to the rethinking of investments and related guarantees as well as risk-sharing solutions.

Panel 5: Compliance in and for Africa – culture of integrity as a chance for sustainable and stable African entrepreneurship

DSC_0178According to Noor Naqschbandi (Director, Alliance for Integrity), who moderated the fifth panel, civil society as a whole should be strengthened in Africa and passed the floor to Linda Ofori-Kwafo (Ghana Integrity Initiative – local chapter of Transparency International). She displayed the biggest problem on the African continent - money outflow. Furthermore, she considered the lack of the rule of law as the main cause for corruption.

Meinhard Remberg (Executive Vice President, SMS GmbH) introduced the view of a German company that is active in Africa. His chief criticism concerned bad habits, which were brought to Africa and suggested collective action to combat corruption through the help of NGOs and transparent international compliance agreements.

Tom Brown (CEO, Kaizen Compliance Solutions) summarized the most crucial challenges Africa has to face: corruption, health and poverty. The major problem is the top to bottom approach – corruption of leaders and lack of investment. This problem could be handled through relocating money back to Africa to employ and invest in people.

Also, Dr. Stefan Liebig (Director, German-African Business Association) mentioned the problem of missing investments. Among hundreds of African IT-zones, the basic infrastructure remains the biggest challenge. Due to a shortage of infrastructure projects, this economic sector is still struggling despite the enormous African potential. In his opinion, sustainability comes with the right investments.


It can be stated that the 5th Viadrina Compliance Congress was a complete success. In spite of, and more explicitly because of the numerous discussions about the differing local interpretation of compliance, corruption and bribery, all participants agreed, that the fight against corruption and nepotism must be stepped up in a close and transparent exchange. For that reason, we need to overcome borders together and develop countermeasures on a global scale.

Alexander Matuk, LL.M.