Mitigating the rise of corporate misconduct amid pandemic

May 05, 2021

Lisa Talbot and John Fabello spoke to Canadian Lawyer about the acceleration of white-collar crime amid the COVID-19 pandemic and discussed the vital role in-house counsel can play in creating a strong compliance culture to mitigate misconduct in the current economic climate.

While reports of malpractice are on the rise, Lisa emphasized the critical role senior leadership can play in creating a strong foundation for a compliant workplace culture.

“In times like these when there are disparate workforces, our officers and directors should understand if and how a company’s culture is creating or reducing risk,” Lisa said.

“Never has it been more important to be setting an exemplary tone from the top down in terms of how business is conducted.”

John added that organizations looking to cut costs when it comes to compliance controls may face increased risk.

“Businesses should not be looking to reduce internal controls as a means to save costs because really, in the long run, a lack of control at times like these can result in losses that eclipse any cost savings associated with reducing compliance controls,” John said.

Lisa and John further discussed the importance of prioritizing employees’ mental health, as employees who are unwell are more likely to contemplate misconduct. They recommended that organizations promote mental health and employee assistance programs and encourage staff to take vacation.

John also pointed out that there would undoubtedly be a rise in enforcement action against corporate crime this year.

“Don’t be lulled into thinking there won’t be enforcement action because there’s usually a ‘calm before the storm,’” John said.

Lisa and John are co-heads of Torys’ White Collar Defence and Investigations Practice, which helps businesses manage and mitigate risks associated with government oversight and regulatory power to impose sanctions which can lead to litigation and reputation damage.

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