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BAE Systems chief counsel Roger Wiltshire has urged in-house lawyers to take a proactive approach to reframing their ethical and compliance programmes.
Speaking on reputational risk, Wiltshire revealed the extent of BAE’s overhaul of its business ethics following the independent Woolf Report commissioned by the company and published in May last year.
He highlighted the company’s ban on facilitation payments and told delegates at The Lawyer Summit 2009 that the company now had the strictest possible rules on the appointment of advisers who are contracted to provide support to sales of defence equipment in particular countries. This involved a rigorous vetting process that used third parties to check the potential adviser.
The external committee includes representatives from one of BAE’s panel firms, Linklaters. Wiltshire admitted this was seen by some as an extra level of bureaucracy, but that it was an essential tool in the company’s efforts to embed an ethical framework to its business. Wiltshire acknowledged that media interest in BAE was high. “Our mission,” he said, “is to become extremely boring as quickly as possible.”