IT sector struggles to combat corruption and bribery

Anti-corruption and anti-bribery policies do not work, and IT and telecom companies haven't been spared the ill practices, a new study by Eversheds shows.

Eversheds polled 500 board-level executives in large organisations in 12 countries, including 55 in the IT and telecoms sector, about how they’re handling bribery and corruption.

Turns out, not so well. Almost two-thirds (65 per cent) have said anti-corruption policies do not work, and 80 per cent of executives said to have uncovered ill practices within their organisations.

Eversheds’ report, entitled Beneath the Surface, says executives are well aware of the dangers corruption and bribery present, but are doing little to prevent, monitor and manage such behaviour.

"Businesses do understand the seriousness of bribery and corruption and the potentially devastating impact of a public investigation on their bottom line and their reputation. This in itself represents significant progress. Until recently bribes were viewed by many as just the price of working in certain jurisdictions and sectors, but companies increasingly see bribery and corruption as being bad for business,” said Neill Blundell, partner and head of the fraud and investigations group at Eversheds LLP.

Less than half of board-level respondents (42 per cent) said they actually understood their anti-bribery policies, and 9 per cent said to have taken enough anti-bribery training.

Not even half (40 per cent) believe their approach to handling these issues is appropriate for the type of business they run.

“The fact that less than one in ten see potential prosecution as the most important risk of bribery and corruption has profound implications for government’s anti-bribery strategies,” Blundell added.

“Governments have typically tried to fight bribery by deterring companies with high profile prosecutions under the UK Bribery Act and similar overseas laws, but they need to work with the private sector to articulate the business case for anti-bribery.”

Image source: Shutterstock/Melpomene