Compliance Examples: The 3 Standards to Know (2023)

By Tibor Moes / Updated: June 2023

Compliance Examples: The 3 Standards to Know (2023)<br />

Compliance Examples

Imagine you’re cooking your grandmother’s famous spaghetti recipe for the first time. The recipe card is weathered and stained, the handwriting faded but legible. You could add some of your own twists, but you decide to stick to the recipe as closely as possible because that’s the way to get the best result. That’s what compliance is like. It’s about sticking to the rules, the recipe, to get the best results in business.


Compliance refers to a company’s adherence to regulatory guidelines, industry standards, and corporate policies. It’s like playing by the rules in a board game – it keeps things fair, predictable, and prevents problems down the line.

Example 1: JP Morgan and Anti-Money Laundering Compliance (2013). When JP Morgan faced scrutiny over insufficient controls leading to the infamous “London Whale” trading incident, it demonstrated the importance of robust compliance in preventing financial malpractices. The firm paid nearly $1 billion in fines and overhauled its compliance procedures to prevent similar issues in the future.

Example 2: Volkswagen Emission Scandal (2015). This automotive giant was found guilty of cheating on emission tests by installing software that manipulated results, highlighting a massive compliance failure. As a result, Volkswagen paid billions in penalties, recalled millions of cars, and its reputation took a severe hit, emphasizing the drastic consequences of non-compliance.

Example 3: Facebook and GDPR (2018). The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a strict privacy law in the European Union. Facebook faced a $1.63 billion fine for a data breach that affected 29 million users, which violated GDPR. This incident underscores the importance of compliance with data protection and privacy laws.

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Compliance Examples In-Depth

JP Morgan and Anti-Money Laundering Compliance (2013)

Picture this. You’re trying to make your grandmother’s beloved apple pie recipe, but you decide to wing it without properly measuring the ingredients. It might turn out okay, or it might not. JP Morgan learned the hard way that in the world of finance, there’s no room for winging it.

In 2013, JP Morgan, one of the largest and most respected banks in the world, found itself in a bit of a pickle. This wasn’t your everyday hiccup, but a complex issue related to anti-money laundering – the process aimed at preventing, detecting, and reporting illegal financial activities.

The problem was like a hole in a dam. It started small and almost unnoticed but soon became a flood of problems. They were fined almost $1 billion because of a failure in their compliance procedures. A hefty price to pay for not following the ‘recipe’, wouldn’t you agree?

The crux of the matter was what the finance world calls the “London Whale” incident. It’s a tale of a trader making huge, risky bets that led to losses amounting to over $6 billion. Now, that’s a whale of a problem!

While the trader made headlines, the real issue lurked below the surface, much like the rest of the iceberg under the tip. The real culprit? JP Morgan’s inadequate internal controls and compliance procedures. These systems are like traffic lights and road signs – they keep everything in order, ensuring no one is zooming down the wrong way or ignoring red lights.

In this case, the bank had ignored crucial red lights. Their systems for monitoring trades and assessing risks – much like the recipe for your grandmother’s apple pie – weren’t followed closely enough. And the result? They had unknowingly opened the doors to potential money laundering activities.

This wake-up call led to a significant overhaul in JP Morgan’s compliance procedures. It was a reality check that emphasized the importance of strong compliance measures in preventing financial malpractices. Just like you’d learn to measure the ingredients for your pie properly after a failed attempt, JP Morgan took this experience to heart and tightened up its operations.

The bank implemented stronger monitoring systems and more stringent controls to ensure the incident wouldn’t repeat. It was a costly lesson, but it served to highlight the importance of compliance in maintaining the integrity of financial institutions.

In conclusion, just like the precision required in following a recipe or the rules of the road, financial institutions must adhere to strict compliance protocols. The JP Morgan incident serves as a stark reminder of the consequences when those protocols aren’t followed. It’s a tale we can all learn from, reminding us that while cutting corners can be tempting, it often leads to a more significant mess in the end.

Volkswagen Emission Scandal (2015)

Have you ever had a secret that you hoped no one would find out? Maybe a surprise birthday party or a secret ingredient in your award-winning chili? Well, Volkswagen had a secret too, but it wasn’t about any surprise party or chili. It was much more serious.

In 2015, this automobile giant found itself in the middle of a storm – one of their own making. You see, Volkswagen was caught red-handed cheating on emission tests for their diesel engines. It was like a student sneakily writing the answers on their hand before a big test. But in this case, the consequences were far graver than detention or a failing grade.

The heart of the problem was a little piece of software installed in their cars. It’s like a magic trick. During emission tests, this software would miraculously reduce the cars’ pollution levels, fooling the testers into believing that the cars met environmental standards. Once the cars hit the road, however, the software would switch off, and the vehicles would spew out up to 40 times the legal limit of nitrogen oxides.

Now, that’s like baking a cake that looks fantastic in the oven, but once it’s out, it collapses into a mess. Not exactly what you promised, right? Well, that’s how Volkswagen’s customers, regulators, and the general public felt – deceived.

When the scandal broke, the repercussions were immediate and severe. Volkswagen was slapped with billions of dollars in fines worldwide. They were forced to recall millions of cars, which is equivalent to recalling a vast batch of defective cakes from the market. And the brand’s reputation? It took a nosedive. It was a high price to pay for a “magic trick” that was anything but magical.

In the aftermath, Volkswagen committed to a comprehensive compliance overhaul. Much like a wayward student realizing the importance of studying instead of cheating, the company learned its lesson about compliance the hard way. They’ve since invested in developing more eco-friendly vehicles and have made considerable efforts to restore their reputation.

The Volkswagen emissions scandal is a vivid example of how non-compliance can lead to massive financial and reputational losses. It underscores the importance of honesty, integrity, and compliance with environmental regulations. In other words, there’s no shortcut to doing the right thing. Just as a student who cheats only cheats themselves, companies that skirt around compliance rules do a disservice not just to themselves, but to all of us who share this planet.

Facebook and GDPR (2018)

Imagine you’re entrusted with your best friend’s secret. They believe you will keep it safe, right? Well, in the online world, companies like Facebook are trusted with secrets too, secrets like your personal data. However, in 2018, Facebook, much like a blabbermouth friend, let the secret out.

In the heart of Europe, there’s a strict law known as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). It’s like the strict librarian who insists on absolute silence. It has clear rules to protect user data and privacy. These rules are not suggestions or guidelines but stringent laws with hefty penalties for non-compliance.

Now, Facebook, the global social media giant, found itself in the crosshairs of these regulations when it suffered a data breach affecting 29 million users. That’s akin to losing 29 million secret recipes in one go! Quite a catastrophe, right?

The breach was a violation of GDPR rules and the repercussions were swift and substantial. Facebook faced a potential fine of $1.63 billion. This penalty would be like paying a dollar for every secret recipe lost – a hefty price indeed.

But the issue wasn’t just about the fine. The breach served as a wake-up call, underscoring the absolute necessity of safeguarding user data and maintaining compliance with data protection and privacy laws. It was like a friend who broke your trust realizing they must work even harder to regain it.

In the aftermath, Facebook had to revisit its data protection practices. Much like our blabbermouth friend promising to keep future secrets safe, Facebook pledged to strengthen its data security. This process involves continuous adjustments to their systems to better protect user information and maintain compliance with laws like the GDPR.

The Facebook-GDPR incident of 2018 is a compelling reminder of how crucial compliance is in our increasingly digital world. It teaches us that when companies are entrusted with our personal data, they must treat it as cautiously as one would treat a dear friend’s secret. After all, in this information age, data protection is no longer just about compliance; it’s about maintaining trust in the digital world.


Compliance isn’t just a buzzword or a box to check off in a list of business practices. It’s a crucial element that dictates how companies navigate their industries, serve their customers, and contribute to their communities. The tales of JP Morgan, Volkswagen, and Facebook reveal the far-reaching impacts of non-compliance, not only in terms of financial penalties but also in the loss of trust and reputation. By adhering to rules and regulations, companies can not only avoid these pitfalls but also create safer, fairer, and more reliable industries for us all. So the next time you hear about compliance, think of it as the recipe, the road rules, or the secret keeper that keeps our world in order.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Below are the most frequently asked questions.

What is compliance?

Compliance refers to the process of making sure that a company or organization is following all relevant laws, regulations, and standards. It’s like following the rules of a board game – if you don’t comply, you could face penalties, and the game won’t be fun for anyone.

Why is compliance important in business?

Compliance is essential because it helps to ensure that companies are conducting business ethically and responsibly. It protects the interests of the company, its employees, customers, and the public. Non-compliance can lead to legal penalties, reputational damage, and loss of trust, as we saw in the examples of JP Morgan, Volkswagen, and Facebook.

What can happen if a company is not compliant?

If a company fails to comply with relevant laws, regulations, and standards, it could face significant consequences. These could include fines, sanctions, or even being forced to cease operations. The company may also suffer reputational damage, as its non-compliance could lead to negative public sentiment and loss of customer trust.

Author: Tibor Moes

Author: Tibor Moes

Founder & Chief Editor at SoftwareLab

Tibor is a Dutch engineer and entrepreneur. He has tested security software since 2014.

Over the years, he has tested most of the best antivirus software for Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS, as well as many VPN providers.

He uses Norton to protect his devices, CyberGhost for his privacy, and Dashlane for his passwords.

This website is hosted on a Digital Ocean server via Cloudways and is built with DIVI on WordPress.

You can find him on LinkedIn or contact him here.

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