Business Ethics and Corporate Culture

MF Global’s Bankruptcy Woes Worsen

Reuters reports that the fallout from MF Global Holdings Ltd’s (MF Global) bankruptcy has intensified, after the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission subpoenaed the Bank of Montreal’s Harris Bank over the alleged holding of MF Global’s customer funds, and three lawsuits over the sudden dismissal of 1,066 employees have been filed against the bankrupt brokerage. US regulators are reportedly stepping up their investigation into the US$600 million of customer funds still missing from MF Global’s accounts.
Reuters: Harris Bank subpoenaed, workers sue over MF Global (14 November 2011)
(Source: Reuters)

Government-controlled Finance Firms’ Executive Bonus Slammed

The Age reports that the US House Financial Services Committee (HFSC) has voted to block government-controlled finance firms Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac from paying out nearly US$13 million in executive bonuses. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac chief executives have reportedly defended the bonuses as being necessary to attract and retain qualified staff. According to The Age, both firms received government bail-outs in 2008 and were directed to “maximize assistance for homeowners”, which according to HFSC representative Elijah Cummings “has not happened… [and] nobody should be receiving million-dollar bonuses by claiming it has”.
The Age: Fannie, Freddie chiefs defend pay packages (17 November 2011)
(Source: The Age)

Public Consultation on Bribery Law

Attorney-General Robert McClelland has made available Divisions 70 and 141 of the Criminal Code Act 1995: Assessing the ‘facilitation payments’ defence to the Foreign Bribery offence and other measures – Public Consultation Paper (15 November 2011) for public comment.

The paper focuses on corruption offences, and specifically looks at:

  • “the treatment of facilitation payments under Australian law; 
  • the factors that influence whether a benefit is ‘legitimately due’ to the recipient;
  • the current requirement to identify a particular foreign public official in order to establish an offence; and
  • the role of dishonesty in domestic corruption offences”.

Comments on the public consultation paper should be sent to the Attorney-General’s Department by 15 December 2011. 
Further information from the Attorney-General’s Department
(Source: Attorney-General)

Consumers Want Corporate Social Responsibility

 Forbes reports that the momentum behind corporate social responsibility (CSR) is growing in the US, with marketing firm BBMG finding that 30% of consumers are likely to reward or punish a company based on its corporate practices. Meredith College assistant professor of marketing Karen Mishra reportedly said that “[c]onsumers more and more are looking to buy from socially responsible companies, and they’re actually willing to pay more for products in certain cases”.

A number of companies have reportedly made socially responsible efforts, including Starbucks launching a community-based microfinance scheme, Wells Fargo running a corporate giving program, and General Electric devoting a website to its CSR activities. However, Ms Mishra reportedly warns that savvy consumers will see through disingenuous efforts, which may do more marketing harm than good.
Forbes: Mixing business strategy, “social responsibility” (9 November 2011)
(Source: Forbes)

FTC Regulatory Action

The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has released the following media releases relating to recent regulatory actions:

(Source: FTC)