July 12, 2019, was the date of the first SCCE Regional Compliance & Ethics Conference in Thailand. With our growing membership in Asia, the association is eager to provide more opportunities for members of the local compliance and ethics community to meet, network, and share best practices.
While there I sat down to record this podcast with John Frangos, a partner and Deputy Director, Dispute Resolution at the law firm Tilleke & Gibbins. In our conversation, we cover the many compliance risks for companies doing business in the country, which has the 25th largest GDP in the world.
At the top of the list of compliance risks is corruption. The country had a score of just 36 on the Transparency International 2018 Corruptions Perception Index. Perhaps surprisingly, is that corruption is not limited to the public sector. Business needs to be wary of corruption in the private sector as well.
A second risk, although mostly for businesses in the fishing industry, is modern slavery. This can be a particularly challenging risk area because of the length and complexity of the fish processing supply chain, he explains. To stay on top of the issue businesses need to audit their supply chain diligently.
Organizations also need to be careful when they find an issue. Thailand, he warns, has very strict defamation laws. Accusing a company of wrongdoing publicly can lead to criminal prosecution if that company fights back.
One key to mitigating risks in Thailand, as elsewhere, is to encourage local companies your organization works with to establish or strengthen their compliance efforts. Doing so successfully will involve convincing the local company that it will benefit their business, including the business they have with you. It can also be advantageous to remind them of the relevant Thai law that prohibits bribery.
John also suggests that compliance requirements be put into the contract, while remembering that corporate criminal liability was only introduced in Thailand in 2015. It’s a very new concept there.
Listen in to learn more about the risks of doing business in Thailand and how to navigate safely around them.