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Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Integrity -- Sometimes it's the "little" things

One of the "three overarching principles" of procurement law is integrity, according to Prof. Steven Schooner's famous Desiderata: Objectives for a System of Government Contract Law available here and here.

Integrity is also a key standard of responsibility required of anyone wanting to become a government contractor. See ABA Model Procurement Regulation R3-401.01.1(c), and Guam Regulation 2 GAR § 3116(2)(A)(iii).

Personal integrity, of course, follows you wherever you go: if you have it. It is not something you get once, put it on the shelf, and forget about it. It is something that requires consistent care and attention.

In the current environment of the embarrassed (we'd hope) financial industry, we see that it can come down to basic character as revealed in little things.

Dishonesty at Heart of Ban for Ex-BlackRock Director Train Cheat
A former managing director at BlackRock Asset Management Investor Services Ltd. has become an emblem of regulators' efforts to crack down on ethical lapses. The U.K. Financial Conduct Authority banned Jonathan Burrows from all regulated financial-services work, saying he “lacks honesty and integrity” after cheating to pay less for his commute.

On Nov. 19, 2013, Burrows was stopped by a transport officer at the exit gates of London’s Cannon Street station for not having a ticket valid for his entire journey. The former money manager used his London travel card to exit the station, paying 7.20 pounds rather than the 21.50 pounds he should have paid for traveling in from beyond the capital’s borders. Burrows told the FCA that he’d done it a number of times and knew he’d been breaking the law.

Burrows’s exploitation of the way railway prices are calculated echoes the behavior of traders who tried to profit by gaming currency and interest-rate benchmarks -- in the face of rules requiring honest personal conduct. Banning someone from the industry over conduct outside the workplace shows how far the FCA is willing to reach as it tries to rebuild trust in London’s financial markets, lawyers said.

The FCA requirements for so-called approved persons “are not simply limited to conduct in the workplace between 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.,” said Simon Hart, a London-based lawyer at RPC LLP. “While the FCA are not there to punish every minor infringement of the law outside of work, his actions were deemed dishonest and that is where the line is drawn.”

The regulator is working to tighten its scrutiny of people going into roles that require its authorization -- typically client-facing work -- and honesty, integrity and reputation are three core values it looks at when considering whether to grant approval to work in the industry.
Think this might just catch on in government contracting? The principle is the same.

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