Legal solutions to drive business development.


The growing trend

By Alessander Lopes Pinto

Since the world maritime sector began to discuss, a few years ago, the plausibility of autonomous ships for the transport of goods by waterway, a disruptive transformation has shaken maritime and port activities at a global level. We are not far from the time when ships and ports can be operated without the human element. Automation is now at the center of the competition arena. 

The maritime world quickly understood how the implementation of technological innovations and artificial intelligence could accelerate the self-management of navigation and ports from the monitoring of equipment integrity and automation of mechanical and electrical systems, reducing the need for human interference and increasing the efficiency of operations. 

With an eye on the future, companies began to invest enormous resources in the development of technological innovations and stimulated the use of artificial intelligence concepts in systems on board ships, including radar sensors, cameras and satellite guidance, as well as security systems.  

Projects previously only imaginable in science fiction have now become reality. The ship Yara Bierkeland, known beyond the maritime industry for combining technology and energy efficiency, was a pioneer among autonomous ship projects, although it did not completely exclude the presence of a human team on board. Developed by the Norwegian company Yara International, it made its first test voyage in November 2021. 

Then it was Mikage’s turn, from the Japanese company Mitsui Lines, to cross the seas. The first fully autonomous ship to dock by herself, she made use of drones, at the end of the voyage, to release cables for the port workers. The transformation has just begun. Japan already has its second automatic ship, named Suzaku. The vessel made its first test voyage in February 2022. 

Brazil has been following this growing trend with due attention and, since 2020, has a technological platform – Brazilian Cluster of Artificial Intelligence for Ships – for the development of artificial intelligence for the maritime sector. The initiative brings together representatives from the government, academia, maritime companies and industrial leaders and seeks to promote projects and technological solutions, attract investments, bring together research centers that already work in the area and point out the new Brazilian bets for maritime transport and port activities to the national and international market. 

It is worth noting that technological innovation centers have been implemented in the main Brazilian port cities, with emphasis on the computerization and digitalization of port procedures related to the arrival of ships, their loading, unloading and clearance by the various competent authorities. Not least, the Brazilian program “Porto Sem Papel” (Paperless Port), in force for almost ten years, has brought efficiency to port operations, reducing bureaucracy and creating more agility and economy for operations. 

Note, however, that there are sensitive points to be considered at the current moment of this transformation. It should be noted that the expected efficiency for maritime transport will only be achieved with the integration of the entire logistics chain involved in the shipment of goods, from the collection at factories, storage, dispatch, transport, unloading and delivery to the final recipient. 

In this regard, the conflict between Ukraine and Russia lights up a red light for the intended change. In addition to all the humanitarian tragedy and consequent escalation of misery and delay on a global level, the integrity of ports, ships and communications infrastructure, not restricted to countries involved in the armed conflict, is a real risk. Likewise, the impacts suffered from cybernetic attacks, intensified during the war, cannot be ignored. Identifying and preventing threats to communication network operations, including the maritime and port sector, have required greater attention from cybersecurity development centers. 

The industry and the international maritime community must be prepared to deal effectively with any attack and protect the continuity and security of ports and ships. To this end, in the near future, a considerable effort must be made to carry out two tasks that today seem irreconcilable: the first is to seek a solution to the end of the war and its devastation; the second, closely associated with the first, is to advance the entrepreneurial agenda of a modern, efficient, intelligent and technological navigation.

Compliance Mechanisms as a Business Management Tool 

By Mauricio Bove

The true concept of Compliance is not yet fully disseminated in Brazil. As a result, most Brazilian companies find it difficult to see Compliance as an apt solution to their business management problems, limiting themselves, at most, to complying with basic legal obligations. 

In this context, innovation in management, through Compliance mechanisms, hardly ever happens in a preventive way, but due to some internal or external circumstance, such as the attempt to mitigate penalties, recover the image and reputation or the need of fund-raising. 

It should be noted that Compliance, in addition to being the set of measures adopted by an organization to promote ethical conduct and compliance with laws and regulations, is also an important management tool.  

It is necessary to be clear that the effectiveness of a company’s Compliance program must be measured through the analysis of three essential mechanisms to minimize and manage risks: prevention, detection and response. These are actions that allow us to map the organizational processes of companies, in order to identify weaknesses that allow the occurrence of acts of corruption, fraud, use of personal data, money laundering, conflicts of interest, relationship with competitors, among others.  

Unlike the usual understanding, Compliance does not only assume a punitive and bureaucratic role, but has an essentially preventive function, creating policies and procedures to disseminate an ethical culture, in addition to training and communication actions so that the preservation of integrity, both of the company’s employees and of third parties involved, becomes the guiding principle of business activity. Its mechanisms play a decisive role in preventing risks in general, such as legal and reputational infractions and in hiring employees and third parties.  

Thus, it is worth shedding light on Petrobras’ integrity mechanisms, and, especially, on the recent episode of the succession attempts for the position of chairman of the Board of Directors and for the presidency of the company.  

Apparently, the reports from Petrobras’ Governance and Compliance Department on the record of the executives listed for the Board of Directors and the company’s presidency, pointed out that both of them would have difficulties in satisfying the committee’s criteria that would assess whether they would be able to occupy the positions for which they were appointed.  

Compliance mechanisms, including the Background check, which analyzes the past life of candidates, thus serve as a “wall” of protection for companies. They strengthen the management of organizations, the preservation of integrity, business valuation, increase of efficiency, competitive advantage and productivity gains.  

As demonstrated by the example of Petrobras, organizations must implement preventive mechanisms that minimize their vulnerabilities and, at the same time, strengthen the fight against corruption and irregularities. Based on international guidelines and the regulation of the Brazilian Anti-Corruption Law, it is possible to build a “wall of protection” to prevent, detect and remedy the practice of misconduct.  

As important as the “shielding” of companies, compliance procedures help to foster a culture of integrity, encouraging ethical behavior in people’s daily conduct. Although it is mandatory to comply with laws and regulations, ethical values must be lived in trivial everyday actions.  

We have been advising different companies, of different types and sizes, and, it is clear, in most of them, an initial difficulty in seeing the concept of Compliance as business management. Taking it into consideration, not only in the matrix of corruption risks, but in the business strategies, considering different aspects that involve decision-making, is fundamental for the survival of organizations.  

It is understandable, especially in the Brazilian case – generous in the production of economic and political crises – that most entrepreneurs are more concerned with critical issues and with short-term survival. However, although it seems obvious, for companies to be able to grow and profit, they must continue to exist, and few have this issue as clear as it needs to be.  

The practice of Compliance has become mandatory in the handbook of any sustainable organization, either public or private. To last and expand the business, companies need to be truly innovative and sustainable in all aspects of their decisions. It is important that they understand this context as soon as possible, while there is still time to do it.

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