Key Steps to Establish an Effective Anti-Corruption Programme

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Key Steps to Establish an Effective Anti-Corruption Programme

Debra Kuper, Vice President, General Counsel and Corporate Secretary, AGCO, USA

The 1960s and 1970s were transformative years for the US. The country was in the midst of a chaotic armed conflict overseas. Civil rights were causing turmoil on city streets. A political scandal resulted in the president?s impeachment. The environment was under assault. Terrorism was on the rise globally, including at the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich. To top it off, the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) charged more than 400 major US corporations with bribery. In the end, these companies admitted bribing foreign government officials, politicians and political parties to obtain or retain business. Shortly thereafter, the US Congress enacted the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act of 1977 (FCPA). The FCPA was intended to make it unlawful for US persons and certain foreign issuers of securities to make payments to foreign government officials for the purpose of obtaining or retaining business. Later, the FCPA would be amended to apply to foreign firms and persons who cause, directly or indirectly through their agents, corrupt payments within the US. The hope was that the FCPA would restore public confidence in the integrity of the US business system. This objective was not limited to US markets; by 1997, the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) had obtained the signatures of the US and 33 other countries for the OECD Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions. The FCPA consists of two major provisions: one that addresses the bribery of foreign officials and one that imposes accounting and internal accounting control requirements on corporations. This paper focuses on the latter.

Debra Kuper joined AGCO in January 2008 as Vice President with overall responsibility for the company's legal matters. AGCO, located in Duluth, GA, is a leading global manufacturer of agricultural equipment, including tractors, combines, hay tools, sprayers, forage and tillage equipment. AGCO employs 15,000 individuals and generates $8B in annual revenues. Debra was the first female executive on AGCO’s senior management team. She was also the first female in the board room in her role as the Corporate Secretary of AGCO. She is responsible for all of the company’s legal matters, including litigation, regulatory and securities filings, executive compensation, M&A, joint ventures, corporate records and minutes, resolutions and consents of AGCO’s Board of Directors. She supervises all of the company’s 25 attorneys (15 are women) and 12 support staff disbursed throughout Argentina, Brazil, China, France, Germany, Russia, Switzerland and the U.K. As a member of the senior management team reporting to the CEO, Debra determines litigation strategy throughout the organization. In addition, she serves as the Global Chief Ethics and Compliance Officer and manages a team of 18 compliance officers and controllers. She also supervises 17 product safety and standards engineers. Ms. Kuper was chosen as one of the “2010 Most Powerful and Influential Women in Georgia” and received the Glass Ceiling Award at the Georgia Leadership Conference, sponsored by the National Diversity Council. She won the International Law Office award for the “2011 Employment Team of the Year Award,” the Inside Counsel Magazine award for “2011 One of the 10 Most Innovative Legal Departments in the Country,” and has been nominated for the Corporate Secretary Magazine “2011 Corporate Governance Team of the Year,” “2011 Best Overall Governance, Compliance and Ethics Program,” “2011 Governance Professional of the Year,” “2010 Best Overall Governance, Compliance and Ethics Program,” “2009 Corporate Secretary of the Year,” and “2009 Best Overall Governance, Compliance and Ethics Program.” She has been featured in the June 2011 edition of The National Law Journal in an article entitled “Farm Girl,” the May 2010 edition of Inside Counsel magazine in an article entitled “Compliance Management Questions Linger,” the September 2009 edition of Inside Counsel magazine in an article entitled “Coming Up Roses,” and the August 2008 edition of Corporate Counsel magazine in an article entitled “Heading Up the Farm Team.” She is a frequent speaker at industry seminars. Ms. Kuper joined AGCO from Caterpillar Inc. in Peoria, Illinois. She received a B.A. from the University of Wisconsin and a J.D. from Marquette University, where she also taught as an adjunct professor. She is a member of the Wisconsin Bar Association, American Bar Association, Association of Corporate Governance Professionals, The Diversity Council, the National Association of Women Lawyers and the National Association of Professional Women.

AGCO has a brand heritage reaching back to the mid-1800s. AGCO was established in 1990 with the purchase of Deutz Allis Corporation from German-based Kloeckner-Humboldt-Deutz AG. KHD, in turn, had purchased portions of the Allis-Chalmers agricultural equipment business five years earlier. Since that time, AGCO has become a worldwide farm machinery company through market growth, strategic acquisitions and cutting edge agricultural solutions.

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