By Adam Turteltaub
Lately, there’s been another rash of articles floating around online about compliance officers in trouble and speculating whether the government is going after compliance people.
It’s a neat trick to get attention and turn up the paranoia-o-meter for compliance people. But, if you read the articles carefully, you’ll see that the fears are often overblown.
For one, they tend to focus on compliance officers in the financial services world where, unlike in the general corporate setting, there are statutory requirements of compliance officers. That’s a big difference.
Second, many of these compliance officers were allegedly a part of the wrongdoing. They didn’t fight, kick and scream to stop the bad things from happening. They were allegedly a part of it.
Third, many were compliance officers in name only. It was something they did on the side and not the focus of their jobs. My guess is that someone had to have the title, and they were lucky, or unlucky, enough to be the one who received it.
Finally, you’ll note that sometimes the jobs are very narrow compliance, or not really compliance at all. The job just had a compliance title to it.
So the next time you see a headline about all the horrors that the government can inflict upon the compliance officer, take a breath. And, before you reach for the phone to call outside counsel, read the article and ask yourself: is this really a story about a compliance officer like me? Or is it an attempt to cause me to be unnecessarily fearful?
My guess is the latter, and you don’t have to worry about being arrested, shot, killed, arrested again and then sued. Besides, there’s enough real stress in the job to keep you on edge anyway.
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