New Online Tool: Assessing Your Anti-Bribery and Corruption Program – Where to Start?


 

Understanding where your organization stands in terms of its efforts to combat bribery and corruption has never been more important – especially for businesses with any sort of international operations (manufacturing, export, supply chain, sales, etc.). Legislation like the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), the UK Bribery Act and other national laws aligned to OECD, or UNCAC guidance often have stiff penalties, and make it clear that organizations need to take corruption prevention in business seriously.

This means putting in place an effective anti-bribery and corruption program that responds to the needs of your organization and meets international good practice. This can seem like a daunting task to some, which is why we developed a free online tool to help organizations quickly assess their existing activities related to anti-bribery and then identify any gaps which may need to be addressed to bringing the program up to standard.

When assessing your anti-bribery and corruption (ABC) programme, it is useful to identify best practices that inform the components of the most effective compliance programs. Below, we have developed a list of nine guiding principles which can be used to assess your anti-bribery and corruption program and decide what, if any, additional measures might yet need to be put in place.

 

1. Organizational Commitment

The organization should have a clear policy or commitment in place which clearly prohibits bribery in any form, whether directly or indirectly, and includes a prohibition against facilitation payments. Policies should clearly set out what the organization will and will not tolerate, when it comes to bribery and corruption.

2. Comprehensive Procedures

The organization’s anti-bribery and corruption program should be comprehensive and include clear procedures on how certain situations should be handled, covering such topics as: dealing with conflicts of interest, accepting or offering any form of bribe, political donations, charitable donations and sponsorships, facilitation payments, as well as clear guidance on gifts, hospitality and travel expenses.

3. Setting the Tone from the Top

An important element of leadership is about establishing the tone at the top, in order to set the tune in the middle and the beat of the feet at the bottom of the organization. When it comes to bribery and corruption, the leaders need to set a top-down example that there is zero tolerance for bribery within the organization. Those at the top of the organization are in the best position to guard against and prevent bribery, by making sure executives, middle managers, key people you do business with, and you, yourself, understand that bribery is outlawed.

4. Bribery Risk Assessment

This principle is key for understanding the bribery risk in the markets you operate in and the people you deal with, especially if you are entering into new business arrangements or new markets abroad, so that you can assess your organization’s potential exposure to bribery,  the likelihood of bribery occurring, the severity of the consequences from potential bribery – and the organization’s capacity to mitigate any of these risks.

5. Due Diligence Concerning Third Parties

More than two-thirds of the cases prosecuted under the FCPA are the result of acts of third parties. Knowing exactly who you are dealing with and putting controls in place to address the associated risks can help protect your organisation against unnecessary risk and guard against less than trustworthy business partners, contractors, and other intermediaries. In order to mitigate third-party risk, you should carry out adequate checks both before and after engaging others to represent you in business dealings.

6. Anti-Bribery Policy Awareness and Training

Even having the best anti-bribery policy won’t necessarily help organizations unless this policy is effectively communicated to people throughout the organization via regular awareness-raising initiatives and anti-bribery training – from the top of the organization to the bottom, and includes all other relevant business associates such as contractors and business partners. This should result in all relevant individuals having a clear understanding of the organization’s approach to bribery and corruption.

7. Reporting Misconduct

The organization should provide secure and accessible channels through which employees and others can raise concerns, about potential misconduct related to bribery or corruption, and report it to the relevant authority in their organization.  It’s important that there are clear lines of communication open (such as a whistle-blowing mechanism or grievance hotline) where employees can raise concerns about potential breaches of the anti-bribery and corruption policy or report related misconduct without fear of retribution or reprisal.

8. Effective Financial Accounting Controls

The organizations needs to have effective internal controls in place to counter bribery, including financial and organizational checks on accounting and recording-keeping practices – especially those related to its anti-bribery and corruption program. These controls should be subject to regular view and audit to ensure their effectiveness.

9. Continuous Improvement and Monitoring

As part of its commitment to an effective anti-bribery and corruption program, the organization should have regular monitoring in place to assess the program and ensure that it’s functioning as it is intended – that it’s not something that only exists on paper. The organization’s leadership should undertake periodic reviews to assess the program’s effectiveness and report its findings to the audit committee or the Board for their action.

 

By carefully implementing these above principles into your organization, you should be able to develop an effective anti-bribery program that aligns to good practice and that will help to protect your organization against inflated transaction costs from suppliers, reputational risks, fines and even jail sentences for company officials.

* Want to try our free online diagnostic tool for assessing the health of your anti-bribery program now?  Please click on our link: Where Does Your Organization Stand on Anti-Bribery / Corruption?

** If you would like to learn more about implementing or certifying against ISO 37001 (anti-bribery management system)  please feel free to contact us. In the meantime you may also wish to watch our video Primer on ISO 37001 (Anti-Bribery Management System) Standard