Corruption is almost never a stand-alone act; it is generally a pattern followed to gain undue advantages.
Therefore, it shouldn’t surprise whenever episodes considered ‘old’ come back as investigations. Authorities can wait – and often do – the due time to get a full picture of the situation; rather a complicated task in (international) corruption matters.
- documenting whether undue advantages (and not just bribes) were transferred to public officials,
- defining whether someone was extorted (on this point, I co-authored with Mike Kenealy a piece on extortion, ‘Sugarcoating Extortion’ on Ethical Boardroom),
- understanding whether other organizations and/or officials are actually involved.
Whenever a company decides to hire an external counsellor to help overcoming compliance challenges, there are 2 unavoidable prerequisite to bear in mind;
- mutual trust & confidentiality,
- unlimited access to corporate records (even old ones).
I fully appreciate the latter is a big step, however, if your company is serious about compliance, there are no shortcuts; past deals cannot be overlooked.
By means of such audit, your company will be able to identify the weaknesses which lead to past misconducts (if any), avoiding further occurrences.
Moreover, strictly on case by case basis, voluntary disclosure may be considered.