Compliance Challenges for In-House Counsel - Should ethical standards for conducting business be different from country to country?

Karina Pelaez, Legal & Compliance Head, Toyota Compañia Financiera de Argentina S.A., Argentina

Should ethical standards for conducting business be different from country to country? Since human behaviour in general must conform to ethics, a first answer seems to be "no". However, there are at least two aspects that should be considered. First, addressing behaviour at a macro level, we should ask ourselves whether we should behave according to the local ethic standards, or what is commonly referred to the principle of "When in Rome, do as Romans do"; this is particularly relevant in some countries where ethical behaviour is a lax concept. A second aspect could be referred to as a micro-level analysis of day-to-day actions and interactions where ethical standards may be exported from country to country. While certain actions may be seen in some cultures as part of a normal and legally abiding behaviour, in some other countries they are a must not. The role of in-house counsel should be to advise the Board of Directors and management in general on the understanding of the implications of doing business in various countries at both the macro and micro levels –especially in markets, such as Latin America, with different cultures and rules–, and at the same time to balance the absolute need of the company and its members to work ethically and in compliance with applicable laws and culture.

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Argentina Compliance Automotive October 2012 Vol. 6, No. 21, Autumn 2012

Karina Pelaez

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Karina Pelaez is currently the Legal & Compliance Head of Toyota Compañía Financiera de Argentina S.A., a subsidiary of Toyota Financial Services Corporation. She has worked with Aguas Argentinas S.A., a public utility subsidiary of French company Suez S.A. She has counselled clients in a broad range of matters, representing principally banks and corporations as well. She graduated from the University of Buenos Aires School of Law in 1991. She also holds a degree in Management for Lawyers from the Yale School of Management (2012), one in Corporate Governance from the CEMA University (2007), as well as a degree in Negotiation from the University of San Andrés (2007). She has been a professor at the University of Buenos Aires School of Law and she is a current member of the Banks Lawyers Committee.

Toyota Compañia Financiera de Argentina S.A.

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Toyota Financial Services Corporation was created in July 2000, a Japan-based holding company wholly owned by Toyota Motor Corporation, to conduct all the global financial businesses of the TOYOTA Group. Toyota Financial Services Corporation is the financial services institution of Toyota Motor Corporation with offices in 30 countries in all the continents. With over 10 million clients, it is one of the largest brand financial institutions across the globe. Toyota Financial Services Corporation has a clear vision and philosophy based on clients’ needs and on the TOYOTA network of dealers. In order to provide financial services in Argentina, both to Toyota Dealers and Customers, Toyota Financial Services Corporation decided, in 2004, to open a financial company, governed by the Financial Institutions Law [Ley de Entidades Financieras]. Such institution was created as Toyota Compañía Financiera de Argentina S.A. In January 2005, Toyota Compañía Financiera de Argentina S.A. went into business in Argentina with a view to rendering the broadest range of financial services to TOYOTA users.

Argentina Compliance Automotive October 2012 Vol. 6, No. 21, Autumn 2012
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