Bribery risk to business increasing

16 March 2017

Anti-corruption staff expect the risk of bribery and corruption to increase this year, a survey of businesses has found.

A third of respondents to Kroll’s 2017 Anti Corruption and Bribery Benchmark Report said they expected their organisation's bribery risk to increase in 2017, while over half (57%) said they did not expect any improvement. 

Third-party corruption was identified as the top risk to businesses by 40% of respondents, as more complex third-party networks are now the norm. Despite attempts to vet firms before doing business with them, more than half of respondents (55%) said problems – including misconduct and non-compliance – were only found after a business relationship had started, often because the scope of the original due diligence was not broad enough. 

The other top concerns were complex global regulations (14%) and improper payments by employees (12%) and a lack of resources or proper controls (10.2%).

Only 8% of respondents expected their risk to decrease this year.

Kroll, in partnership with benchmarking firm Ethisphere, received 388 survey responses from ethics officers, chief compliance officers and other staff with responsibility for compliance and anti-corruption. The majority of respondents were in businesses headquartered in North America and there was an even mix of publicly-listed and privately-held firms. 

Support for anti-bribery and corruption efforts was also low with almost half (47%) saying they did not receive enough from their organisations. Although this was less than last year (49%), the percentage of respondents that said they were getting sufficient support also dropped from 53% to 51%. A third of respondents said they were more concerned about their personal liability.

Conversely, a majority said they were getting some form of support from the top table. The report found 45% said their CFO had an active or ownership role in anti-corruption efforts and more than a third (36%) had a supporting or passive role. Only 14% reported no involvement from their CFO.

Organisations with CFO support were four times more likely to feel 'extremely prepared' to manage bribery and corruption risk, the report said.

Increasing reputational risk is causing company boards to focus more on bribery and corruption, the report said, and in one year reputational concerns went from being the least likely reason for a third-party to fail vetting to the most likely.

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