Saturday the 9th of December marked the 14th Anti-Corruption day since the passage of the United Nations Convention Against Corruption on 31st October 2003. The theme of IACD 2017 is: United against corruption for development, peace and security. Corruption, although often seen as a victimless crime, has many devastating effects ranging from less prosperity, less respect for rights, less provision of services, and less employment.
Earlier this week, the South African’s public protector, Advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane, presented findings from an investigation into government officials’ actions following Nelson Mandela’s funeral. Mandela spent his life fighting for social justice and peace. He was honoured with Nobel Peace Prize in 1993. This highlights the dark irony when the world found out that the South African government failed to plan for his funeral in 2013 and as a consequence 300m rand ($22m; £16m) was “miss-spent”. The development fund that was designated for “sanitation, the replacement of mud schools and the refurbishment of hospitals” was pocketed by officials in the Eastern Cape. There are few reasons for this “miss-management” of resources. One of them is that corruption is “stemming from within government itself, ranging from inappropriate relationships with certain service providers to the misuse of public funds for ANC activities.”
The situation is looking brighter in other countries. In the Anti-corruption day report, UN stated that “Governments, the private sector, non-governmental organisations, the media and citizens around the world are joining forces to fight this crime.” For example, there is evident movement for change as the Argentine Congress approved new corruption law last month. The new law criminalises corporate corruption and imposes requirements for compliance programmes. Other governments that are also tackling corruption include Peru: the Peruvian Development and Social Inclusion Ministry has become the first Executive Branch body to be granted ISO 37001:2016 Certification for Anti-Bribery Management Systems (ABMS) and Singapore launched the Singapore Standard (SS) ISO 37001:2016 (ABMS).
Both of these achievements are following a standard published last year by International Organisation for Standardization. The primary objective of the ISO 37001:2016 is to ensure that the leadership is committed to ethical behaviour and spreading of awareness regarding the problems associated with bribery and corruption across international boundaries. The standard defines an Anti-Bribery Management System as the establishment of a closed-loop control architecture that addresses the specific requirements of ISO 37001:2016. Less formally, the ABMS identifies the strength of the framework available to public, private and not-for-profit organisations to implement, maintain, review and improve the management strategies for the implementation of its anti-bribery initiatives.
Anti-Bribery Anti-Corruption Centre of Excellence (ABAC®) assists companies with certificating their organisation and qualifying employees in ISO 37001:2016. The training courses for employees range in duration and certification received upon successful completion. Lead Auditor training is offered to delegates with 2-5 years of work experience in their respective fields and equips the attendees with knowledge, skills, and competencies required for the ISO37001:2016. ABAC® also offers introductory training on ISO 37001 and training for audit team members. For finance and HR managers as well as compliance officers there is specific training designed to inform about the Impact ISO 37001:2016 has on business activities.
The myriad of training options come as no surprise following scandals such as JP Morgan’s “Son & Daughters Program” when the bank generated $100 million in revenue from hiring about a hundred interns and full-time employees at the request of government officials in China and Asia. This may have been beneficial for JP Morgan at the time, however, following the Foreign Corrupt Practises Act (FCPA), the bank paid $264 millions in fines.
A company that has also been in the news for years because of bribery claims against them is WalMart Inc. So far WalMart Inc has spent about $800 million on legal fees and an internal investigation into the alleged payments and to revamp its compliance systems around the world. The claims have not been settled yet. Just as companies who have already been awarded ISO 37001:2016 certificate such as Terna Group, Robert Bosch GmbH, Alstom, and Eni S.p.A. , Walmart Inc sees the value of the accreditation. Walmart Inc and other big players such as Microsoft Corporation, expressed plans to acquire ISO 37001:2016.
“Companies should take a zero-tolerance attitude towards corruption and put policies in place covering issues such as gifts, supply chains and whistle-blowers, in order to promote a fair and just environment.” In business terms, integrity pays. On average, world’s most ethical companies have 20% greater profits, 12% lower labour costs and 5.5% higher shareholder returns versus S&P 500.
Prosecution of corruption is like a dose of painkillers. It can help with the symptoms, but it won’t solve the problem. On the other hand, anti-bribery management system is comparable to a healthy diet. No one is excited about it but some of us are more determined to choose an apple instead of cake. What is your decision?
For more information about ABAC® Centre of Excellence go to www.ABACGroup.com.
- United Against Corruption http://www.anticorruptionday.org/
- Leigh, A., 2013. Ethical leadership: creating and sustaining an ethical business culture. Kogan Page Publishers.