Business Principles for Countering Bribery

Josephine Serrallach

Josephine Serrallach

Josephine Serrallach

Director, Transparency International New Zealand

Managing the risk from bribery is a major concern for enterprises all over the world, particularly when facing unfair competition in a market where competitors are acting corruptly. On the surface businesses are often concerned that a non-corrupt enterprise would be at a disadvantage. Recent studies from the Institute of Business Ethics of the United Kingdom show that enterprises that had established a code of ethics are more profitable than enterprises without it. They contend that clients, employees and stakeholders are more gratified, leading to better results. Although integrity is shown to be good for businesses, bribery and corruption remains a major challenge.

To assist businesses in the design and implementation of effective anti-bribery policies, Transparency International (TI) developed the "Business Principles for Countering Bribery" with the cooperation of multi-stakeholder process, involving businesses, academia, trade unions and other non-governmental bodies. These policies were first developed in 2003 but have been tested and reviewed over the years, the latest published in October 2013.

The programme for countering bribery is based on two business principles:

  • The enterprise shall prohibit bribery in any form whether direct or indirect.
  • The enterprise shall commit to implementing a programme to counter bribery. The programme shall represent the enterprise’s anti-bribery efforts including values, code of conduct, detailed policies and procedures, risk management, internal and external communication, training and guidance, internal controls, oversight, monitoring and assurance.

Bribery is defined as “the offering, promising, giving, accepting or soliciting of an advantage as an inducement for an action which is illegal or a breach of trust”. 

The scope of the programme covers conflicts of interest, bribes, political contributions, charitable contributions and sponsorships, facilitation payments, gifts, hospitality and expenses.

Of interest to New Zealand is the world-wide recognition that facilitation payments are bribes which should be prohibited. In contrast to this, the Organised Crime and Anti-Corruption Legislation Bill, introduced into New Zealand Parliament on 25 June 2014, has not explicitly changed the current legal standing of facilitation of payments, where payments can be made to foreign public officials for expediting an action. As currently worded the Bill fails to follow the lead taken by the UK Bribery Act 2010, by not allowing facilitation payments considering them a form of bribery. This is also the position of Transparency International based on experience fighting corruption around the world.

Transparency International New Zealand (TINZ) promotes zero tolerance of bribery and corruption evidenced by its "Integrity Plus 2013 New Zealand National Integrity Systems Assessment" and lead role in creating a free online Anti-Corruption Training module. The Institute of Financial Advisors (IFA) New Zealand’s professional body for advising practitioners in financial planning has signed a MoU with the Institute of Business Ethics (IBE) for the delivery of business ethics training courses to their membership.

There is compelling and abundant evidence that business ethics contributes to sustainability in the long term through risk mitigation, maintaining integrity and reputation, attracting top talent, increasing brand loyalty and enhancing value.

Visit the Transparency International website to read or download the "Business Principles for Countering Bribery"

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