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In my opinion, one of the biggest strengths of the chartered accountants poll is that it is based on a national survey, rather than a regional one. Now we know for a fact that bribery is a real issue for businesses here in this country — there is irrefutable evidence. And although I was not surprised that 6% of the respondents reported having had an illegal demand made of them, I did find it disconcerting that only 51% of businesses say they would definitely report an illegal demand.
The survey also shows that bribery is not just an issue for large companies, but also SMEs. The results show that smaller businesses are more likely to have had an illegal demand made than companies with 11 or more staff.
It seemed logical that Auckland businesses had the highest level of illegal demands. As it is the commercial hub of New Zealand, it was concerning that it was also where businesses were less likely to have an anti-bribery policy in place. Only 11.6% of the businesses surveyed from there had a formal anti-bribery policy, compared to 21.8% in Wellington and 13.9% in Christchurch.
The survey shows that it is necessary for the government to take the lead in both raising awareness of the new anti-corruption legislation, as well as the systems and policies that businesses should have in place. Furthermore, a strong signal should be sent to the business community that illegal demands will not be tolerated and perpetrators will be punished.