International Business Attitudes to Corruption Survey 2014-2015
Three powerful drivers are – or should be – sharpening international corporate attitudes to corruption. Firstly, the US is consistently tough on foreign bribery. The world’s largest economy is as diligent as ever in enforcing the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA). Both in theory and in practice, the US claims jurisdiction over international companies listed in the US, or routing any part of their corrupt transactions via US banks or communication systems. In one case in 2014, the Japanese company Marubeni was fined $88m in connection with bribes paid in Indonesia; and the former vice-president of the US subsidiary of French engineering company Alstom pleaded guilty to FCPA charges in connection with the same case.
Secondly, other industrialised economies are tightening enforcement. Other OECD countries are following the US lead – albeit unevenly. In early 2014, Norway concluded its largest-ever international anti-corruption enforcement case, resulting in the imposition of a $48.3m fine on Yara International; in May, Canada imposed a three-year prison sentence on the first individual to be convicted under the country’s Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act; and in July, the UK’s Serious Fraud Office (SFO) charged the British subsidiary of the French company Alstom with six corruption and conspiracy offences relating to contracts in India, Poland and Tunisia.
And finally, emerging markets are joining in. This is perhaps the most significant driver to emerge in 2014. Recent developments in China – notably the prosecution of the UK-based pharmaceutical company GSK – make clear that anti-corruption enforcement is far from being a Western monopoly. Meanwhile, Brazil has introduced a much tougher anti-corruption regime via its Clean Companies Act, and in August 2014, in one of the country’s first foreign corruption cases, the Brazilian authorities filed a criminal complaint against eight employees of the aircraft company Embraer. The complaint alleges that the company paid to secure aircraft sales in the Dominican Republic. Meanwhile, step by step – and often excruciatingly slowly – India too is gradually strengthening its anti-corruption institutions, notably through the Companies Act which came into force in April 2014.
These drivers mean that now – more than ever – companies need to be prepared to be called to account for the effectiveness of their anti-corruption programmes. The requirement for accountability applies first and most obviously in their relationships with national and international regulators but secondly – and in the long run just as importantly – in their dealings with customers, shareholders and political stakeholders.
The survey was conducted in June and July 2014. 638 respondents were surveyed, of which over half (56%) were Chief Legal Officers, General Counsels, or executive level in-house counsel. 9.5% were lawyers from private practice and the remainder included: Directors/Heads of Compliance, Heads of Risk, Heads of Audit and Company Secretaries. The respondents represented a range of business sectors, including professional services (23%); financial services (15%); manufacturing (14%); oil, gas and mining (12%); IT and technology (11%); construction and real estate (7%); and telecoms (6%).
Europe was the best-represented region, with 31.5% of respondents working for organisations headquartered there, followed by Asia/Pacific (23.5%), North America (21.3%), Latin America (14.1%), the Middle East (6.9%) and Africa (4.4%). The best-represented individual countries were the US (107 companies with US headquarters) and the UK (96 companies with UK headquarters). The respondents also included significant numbers from the emerging economies of China (51), Brazil (46), Mexico (44) and India (29).