2018 Annual Review

Companies must close gaps in anti-bribery and corruption compliance

Work remains for companies committed to compliance in an energized enforcement climate

Most legal and compliance employees (72 percent) believe their company’s anti-bribery and corruption (ABC) initiatives are supported and reinforced by senior management, according to the results of the White & Case 2018 Global White Collar Crime Survey, conducted with the University of Manchester. The survey results are based on feedback from 252 respondents from a range of industry sectors, with different roles, positions and responsibilities within their organizations, and based and operating in various parts of the world.

But challenges remain, including on the front lines, where some employees feel pressure to overlook indicators of possible corruption and perceive that a coworker who wins business through a bribe will then be rewarded. As companies face more—and stronger—ABC laws backed by intensified global enforcement efforts, they should ensure that these perceptions don’t undermine their efforts.

Forty percent of respondents report feeling pressure to approve engagement with third parties—such as local agents or subsidiaries—despite bribery and corruption red flags. Forty-eight percent believe employees who pay bribes on behalf of their company will benefit professionally and/or personally. Those who hold this view say the professional benefits would take the form of a "special status" (64 percent) or a promotion (60 percent).

Effective compliance programs can help companies prevent or detect employee wrongdoing, stop inappropriate practices at an early stage and take remedial actions. It may be most surprising that 19 percent of respondents say their company has no formal ABC policy.

To mitigate risks and build a culture of compliance, companies should:

  • Establish strong ABC policies, supported by training
  • Review the incentives that drive employees who work in high-risk positions and jurisdictions, assessing how their success is measured and ensuring that high behavioral standards are tangibly linked to their advancement and compensation
  • Consider including clawback provisions in company policies or individual employment contracts that allow the company to recoup performance payments to employees who are later found to have violated ABC policies


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