Nearly half of businesses in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) do not have an anti-bribery or anti-corruption policy and code of conduct, according to research.
A survey by EY polled 3,800 employees of large businesses in 38 countries and found that pressure on businesses to grow revenues, together with market uncertainty and geopolitical instability, is creating increased risk in expansion opportunities and day-to-day operations.
EY’s Europe, Middle East, India and Africa (EMEIA) Fraud Survey: Fraud and corruption – the easy option for growth? found 52 per cent of respondents from MENA countries are under pressure to expand into higher risk markets, compared to 31 per cent across the EMEIA survey sample.
The survey also found htat despite increasing international and regulatory pressure on business ethics, 50 per cent of MENA respondents justified financial statement misstatement if it helped the business survive.
Just over half of respondents across MENA believed senior management had communicated strongly its commitment to anti-bribery and corruption policies or outlined clear penalties for breaking defined policies, according to the study. But 67 per cent added they believed offering personal gifts, entertainment or cash were justified if it helped a business survive.
Michael Adlem, MENA Leader of EY’s fraud investigation and dispute services practice, said the risks of fraud, bribery and corruption were not going away, and changing the culture of compliance took time.
“Increased regulation and scrutiny will help to speed up this focus but there is still pressure to keep improving,” said Adlem. “Senior management need to continually assess the risks their businesses may be exposed to. These risks can be external, like cyber-attacks or money laundering, but also internal, including market manipulation or misreporting.”