Ethical business conduct is an important basis of KWS business activity, on which we have built up the international compliance system. Our goal is that the business ethics of KWS do not end at national borders and do not change there. We conducted a compliance-risk analysis for all business areas and regions and established the compliance system with regulations that apply internationally to all KWS employees.
Clear behavioral rules in the Code of Business Ethics (CBE)
The “Code of Business Ethics” (CBE) applicable to all KWS companies and the policies based on it are crucial as a guide for employees in their everyday work. The “KWS Group’s International Anti-Corruption Policy” defines the constraints on accepting and giving gifts and donations, issuing invitations and paying for trips. Compliance with other important legislation, such as antitrust laws and regulations, on data protection and regulations under capital market law to prevent insider trading, is governed in separate policies. As is expressly pointed out, sanctions are imposed if the CBE is violated.
Preventive training courses and leadership
The focus of our compliance work is on prevention. The Chief Compliance Officer provides information about the compliance system and its principles, as well as about the latest issues and developments, in training courses, information events and workshops and with a Compliance Newsletter. Apart from this information, a broad range of tools are also available to employees. Checklists, instructional leaflets and other guides provide practical tips on observing compliance rules in everyday work. In addition, all supervisors are required to inform the employees assigned to them about compliance issues, provide advice to them and require them to observe the compliance rules.
Reporting on and investigation of suspected compliance violations
Compliance cases are investigated in accordance with the KWS regulations “Process for handling internal reports of suspected compliance violations”. These procedural regulations, which are accessible to all employees, state among other things: The open-door principle applies to reporting suspected violations. Information about suspected violations can be submitted a) directly to the supervisor, b) directly to the Chief Compliance Officer or c) to the external compliance hotline. All reported cases of suspicion are investigated without exception, as are anonymous tips. Whistleblowers do not suffer any disadvantages, unless they have obviously abused their right to report violations. After the investigation has been completed, the whistleblowers are informed about the findings, as long as there are no legal reasons or legitimate interests of the parties against doing so or other disadvantages are to be feared.
Sanctions and consequences for violations
If the suspected cases prove to be actual violations, the sanctions system is applied. In general, it can be applied to all types of compliance violations and is also accessible to employees. The sanctions system defines various criteria governing the measures to be taken, such as the gravity of the violations, degree of the person’s breach of duty, functional level, behavior after the violation (i.e. attempts to cover it up or help in investigating it), consequences of the violation, such as the threat of damage or the damage actually incurred, and much more. The sanctions consequently range from warnings and reductions in bonuses to immediate dismissal and criminal charges.
Contact persons and points of contact for matters regarding compliance
The central point of contact for all matters regarding compliance is the Corporate Law & Compliance department, which advises all business segments of the KWS Group on complying with the laws, regulations and internal rules of conduct and the monitoring of their observance. The employees at Corporate Law & Compliance are available as contact persons for management and employees in Germany and abroad. In addition, a compliance hotline staffed by an independent solicitor can be reached at all times.