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Businessman takes a bribe

Is your business protected against bribery and corruption?

A staggering 85 percent of Australian businesses are at risk of being tainted by bribery and corruption because they don’t have mechanisms in place to prevent it. Do you know how to implement the framework that will protect your business against illegal behaviours?

According to a joint study by the Institute of Internal Auditors and Protiviti of businesses in the public and private sector, businesses that lack adequate provisions to prevent corrupt conduct run the risk of prosecution.

Protiviti managing director Gary Anderson said Commonwealth Crimes Act means any business may be liable for the actions of its employees if the company is found to have a culture that did not actively prohibit illegal behaviours.

“Not only do the results indicate some Australian businesses have a relaxed approach to their legal need to implement prevention practices, but if the business has international interests, it would appear that they have not put in place the necessary protections against international liability as well,” he said.

Despite this very real potential for prosecution, the survey found just half of businesses provide training to staff on bribery prevention policies and 30 percent said they conduct no training at all.

To introduce a bribery and corruption prevention framework, businesses need to:

1.     Develop and implement a compliance program.

2.     Conduct regular top to bottom training on bribery and corruption prevention policies.

3.     Regularly communicate a zero tolerance policy.

4.     Regularly benchmark their bribery and corruption prevention policy against best practice.

5.     Assess their compliance program against the bribery and corruption legislation in whatever countries in which they have business interests.

In addition to domestic and US laws, the introduction of harsh anti-bribery laws in the UK mean any Australian business with interests in the UK could be prosecuted for acts undertaken by employees, contractors, subsidiaries or agents in other countries, with or without the parent business’ knowledge.

According to Anderson, local businesses need to actively demonstrate they have a prevention framework and corporate culture that has a zero tolerance policy on bribery and corruption to protect against potential prosecution.

“This is not just a board level requirement; Australian businesses need to implement a top to bottom framework that actively says ‘no’ to bribery and corruption.”