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‘Profits over prevention’ hindering anti-bribery and corruption efforts

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28% of companies fail to tailor their anti-bribery programmes to local markets

Pressures to ‘get the job done’ could be compromising bribery and corruption compliance at multinational firms, according to research from international law firm Hogan Lovells.

Steering the Course: Navigating Bribery and Corruption Risk was based on interviews with 604 chief compliance officers (CCOs) and equivalent roles in more than 600 of the world’s largest organisations across Europe, the US and Asia.

More than half (53%) of CCOs reported resistance to their programmes from employees due to compliance procedures conflicting with ‘getting the job done’, while 53% admitted compliance is seen as an unnecessary headache that ‘gets in the way’ of day-to-day operations. Meanwhile, 57% of CCOs said that sales pressure and incentives were two of the biggest barriers to reducing the risk of bribery and corruption.

The research also found that four out of 10 (41%) CEOs do not undergo regular anti-bribery and corruption training,

Nearly a third (28%) of companies fail to tailor global anti-bribery programmes to local markets, and 43% do not make anti-bribery and corruption guidelines available in local languages. This is despite two-thirds (60%) of CCOs saying that cultural differences cause a lack of support for compliance.

Half (49%) of CCOs said the geographical distance between them and the rest of the business has increased the risk of bribery and corruption, while 39% of compliance teams admitted they do not personally visit local offices to guarantee effective implementation.

Crispin Rapinet, global head of investigations, white collar and fraud at Hogan Lovells, explained that the biggest challenge for multinational companies is to translate anti-bribery and corruption policies into effective guidance for employees. “Businesses need to make sure they are doing everything that is legally expected of them in all of the jurisdictions where they operate, to provide evidence that they help people decide what is acceptable and what constitutes bribery and corruption,” he said.

“With regulators and prosecutors around the world uniting in the battle against bribery and corruption, and enforcement growing – even in countries where historically there has been minimal or no enforcement – multinational organisations cannot leave their survival up to chance. They must take proactive steps to make it abundantly clear that anti-bribery and corruption is in their company’s DNA.”