A compliance officer checks the work of others for ethical and regulatory compliance. It is very similar to the role of an auditor. Auditors check the accuracy of financial statements. Auditors do not complete financial statements. If an auditor completed financial statements, the audit profession would say that person was not an auditor. Auditors are expected to be independent. You cannot be independent if you are checking the work you perform. An individual that performs work that must be occasionally checked for compliance with the rule of law… cannot be called a compliance officer.
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The whole purpose of creating the compliance profession was to have an independent person check the work of others. There have been a few instances in which a compliance officer has been accused of wrongdoing by the enforcement community for submitting false or inaccurate documents to the government. Technically speaking, the individual submitting these documents to the government is not a compliance officer. The person completing the documents works in operations. They should have a different title and that person’s work should occasionally be checked for compliance with the rule of law by a compliance officer.
The compliance profession is relatively new and not always well understood. Some companies are using the term compliance officer for jobs that do not fit the fundamental definition of a compliance officer. On occasion, a compliance officer is asked by their organization to manage some area of operations. Some compliance officers are asked to perform legal work. In these instances, the compliance officer should explain the need for independence to their organization and that taking over operations of any kind or performing legal work is not appropriate.
This is also one of the many reasons why compliance should be separate from legal. You cannot perform legal work and then check the legal work you perform for compliance with the rule of law. There is no independence. Similarly the compliance officer should not have their annual review done by anyone whose work they must check. That would be as illogical as having the CFO audit their own work or perform the annual review of the people that audit them.