Prevention as a form of management in Guatemala

By: Astrid Dominguez

In law, prevention is an especially valuable practice. It focuses on identifying and resolving problems before they occur, allowing us to minimize risk and ensure long-term success. By integrating prevention into management, we can improve efficiency, increase the satisfaction of our clients and leaders, and strengthen the organization’s position in the marketplace. In this article we will explore how prevention proves to be a valuable tool, let’s look at an example:

On any given day, a manager in charge of a multinational operation receives a call. The Public Prosecutor’s Office, through the Anti-Money Laundering Prosecutor’s Office, issues a subpoena indicating that they require information related to one of their largest suppliers. The same type of request could be received from the Prosecutor’s Office Against Corruption, the Prosecutor’s Office Against Economic Crimes or the Prosecutor’s Office Against Customs Fraud and Smuggling. How do we respond to this type of request? Are we prepared to prove our good performance?

  • From a reactive perspective.

In a reactive way, once this type of requirement is known, or even a judicial appeal, it would be necessary to address the matter through interviews and searches for documentation that may go back several years. This search is usually very time consuming and requires the staff in charge of the daily operation to focus on urgent activities, leaving aside their usual activities.

In the best-case scenario, it will be possible to access information that objectively justifies the actions of the entity itself. However, there is also the possibility of not having access to any type of information or that the data may have been handled by an individual who no longer works for the entity. It should be added that, for the attention of this type of matters, there is usually no more than one or two weeks to submit the same, so it is expected to have the information before the deadline expires.

  • From the point of view of prevention.

The response or attention to any request from an authority is facilitated in a very high percentage when there are all the necessary mechanisms to prove that within an entity there has been a high level of control of the matter, specifically of the policies and procedures applicable to avoid the commission of criminal acts within the entity. These policies can be related to aspects of knowledge of suppliers, customers, tax payments, control of internal personnel, as well as constant training on ethical behavior.

If this type of documentation is available, it is easy to prove to the Public Prosecutor’s Office or Judge that the best effort has been made to maintain control over the related parties, without the possibility of knowing, presuming or having early indications of the existence of any irregularity or criminal act on the part of the personnel themselves or third parties related to them.

  • Preventive conclusions.

Managing from prevention makes more efficient the attention to urgent aspects, without distracting the attention in an abysmal way on the important and daily aspects. Having a good and efficient control of Compliance issues, benefits the overall operation of the entity. In addition, it manages to leave documented or evidenced the efforts on the correct performance, the inexistence of an omission of control or a direct instruction to commit crimes. This means that, in the event of a request from an authority of a criminal nature, it will be possible to attend in a transparent manner to meet the request, accredit the lawful actions and disassociate itself from the investigation or the criminal process that is underway.