02 December 2004 | Cara Whitehouse
The Export Credit Guarantee Department (ECGD) is defending the revision of its procedures to combat bribery and corruption.
Tough new rules were brought in last May by the ECGD, the government-backed provider of loan insurance for companies that win overseas contracts.
The amendments, which took effect yesterday, came after complaints from some business groups, including the Confederation of British Industry (CBI).
They argued that the rules placed an unrealistic responsibility on them to guarantee that their entire supply chain was free of corruption.
The revisions mean companies need not drill down their supply chain to its remote ends.
Information on foreign agents' commission fees is now only required if the sum is to be
covered by ECGD support or exceeds 5 per cent of the contract price.
Checks against previous corrupt activity have also been narrowed from all employees to only board directors.
The ECGD said changes to its application forms were designed to clarify definitions and ensure procedures are more workable.
An ECGD spokesperson said: "Our measures to combat bribery and corruption remain some of the toughest."
But Graham Rodmell, director of corporate and regulatory affairs at Transparency International (UK), a international non-governmental organisation set up to combat corruption, described the revisions as a step backwards.
"There was scope for clarifying the text but nothing like the changes carried out," he said.