Don't Bury Your Head in the Sand over Corruption; CORPORATE SECURITY Company Executives Risk Fines and Jail by Ignoring Anti-Bribery Laws, Reports John Mellor

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Byline: John Mellor

Bribery and other illegal business practices are still being used by organisations to secure or retain business - despite the rise in international anti-corruption legislation and law enforcement.

This unpalatable truth is revealed in the findings of the tenth global fraud survey from Ernst & Young - Corruption or compliance: weighing the costs.

The survey, which interviewed 1,186 business leaders in large organisations across 33 countries, showed that almost a quarter of respondents (23 per cent) admitted their organisation had been approached to pay a bribe in order to retain or win business in the last two years.

While 18 per cent said they had lost business to a rival as a result of them paying a bribe.

UK businesses still not doing enough to understand the risks, according to the survey.

Although the UK experiences of illegal business practices are lower than the global average, bribery and corruption still plays a role in the conduct of business.

Thirteen per cent of all UK respondents said that their organisation had experienced at least one incident of bribery or corruption in the last two years, compared to six per cent in Germany and six per cent in France.

The global average was 24 per cent - this highlights the increased risks of doing business outside Western Europe.

Eleven per cent of UK respondents admitted that their organisation had been asked to pay a bribe to retain or win business in the last two years, compared with 16 per cent in Germany and 10 per cent in France.

Six per cent of UK and French respondents and four per cent of German went on to say they had lost out on business to a competitor that had paid a bribe.

According to Jonathan Middup, Birmingham-based fraud investigation and dispute services partner at Ernst & Young, environment business leaders and board members face daunting challenges around their compliance obligations in the current climate.

"Recommendations of best practice in antibribery compliance will require companies to take a much more comprehensive view of the way bribery and corruption affects their business."

Although companies recognise the risks of corruption, and are doing more to combat it - more than half of respondents are increasing training on the subject - knowledge of relevant anti-corruption legislation remains patchy, undermining compliance efforts. …