A recent court decision in a shareholder lawsuit against Goldman Sachs is yet another reminder that when it comes to liability often there is no firebreak between the “merely” unethical and the clearly unlawful. (Among the many other examples of this phenomenon are various of the conflict-of-interest-based cases brought several years ago by the New York Attorney General against investment banks and the insurance brokers.)
For C&E professionals the takeaway from this history – which is unknown to many business people – should be that assessing and addressing ethics risks may be necessary to reducing legal exposure.
Ways to assess ethics risks include:
Indeed, the very process of gathering information of this sort will itself send a message that “ethics counts.”
Other ways to address ethics risks include:
About the Author
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Jeffrey Kaplan, a partner in the Princeton, New Jersey office of Kaplan & Walker LLP, has practiced law in the compliance and ethics field since the early 1990’s.
Mr. Kaplan is also former adjunct professor of business ethics at NYU’s Stern School of Business, co-editor (with Joseph Murphy) of Compliance Programs and the Corporate Sentencing Guidelines (West Thomson), former counsel to the Ethics and Compliance Officer Association and co-author of a study by the Conference Board on the use of compliance and ethics program criteria in government enforcement decisions.