Today is International Anti-Corruption Day. This occasion is a good opportunity to think about whether your organization has sufficient systems, policies and controls in place to ensure ethical and responsible business practices both at home and abroad.
For companies active in international business and for organizations with international operations of any kind, the demand side of corruption “ that is, interactions with government officials who seek bribes “ presents the most acute problem. An organization's first and best response to corruption is to establish internal compliance programs and mechanisms to ensure that employees, partners, and third-party contractors and agents are aware of and equipped to appropriately respond to bribe solicitations.
Elements that are frequently present in effective compliance programs include:
- Support and commitment from senior management for ethical business practices and corruption prevention (tone from the top)
- Written policies tailored to the risks faced by an organization and written in accessible, clear language that is easy for employees to understand
- Dedicated personnel tasked with responsibility and accountability for compliance
- Detailed procedures for dealing with specifically identified risks
- Due diligence on business partners and contractors
- Application of the company's anti-corruption program to business partners
- Internal controls (financial controls, in particular) and recordkeeping procedures that are appropriate for the organization's risk profile
- Active communication within the organization and training of employees
- A procedure for detecting and reporting violations or suspected violations
- A procedure for investigating reported violations
- Whistleblower protections
- Periodic internal (or third-party) reviews and evaluations of the organization's anti-corruption program
Despite this lengthy list of best practices, compliance programs are not one-size fits all. Companies must understand the risks that they face and develop specific and targeted programs and policies to address that risk. Procedures should be appropriately tailored to the size, risk profile, nature of operations, and capacity of the organization.
If you wish to discuss ways in which your organization can improve its anti-corruption compliance and protect against demand-side corruption, please feel free to contact us.