Last year ended with a number of reminders of the importance of not forgetting the work against bribery and corruption.
In December alone, Swedish courts handed down three convictions for offences of bribery in matters as different as a municipal CEO’s acceptance of sponsorship for his child’s sport, match fixing and bribery in combination with manipulation of invoices and fake invoices. An acquittal was also handed down in which the question of an employee’s actions in connection with a transport company’s business in Azerbaijan was being examined. The acquitting verdict has later been appealed.
December also saw new legislation containing requirements for businesses with more than 50 employees to set up whistleblowing systems within certain time limits to enable the alarm to be sounded on i.a. corruption, as well as new recommendations from the OECD that increase focus on anti-corruption work.
This year has started with a new trial (the first was declared invalid due to a conflict of interest situation) examining a case of suspected bribery in connection with the carrying out by a region of an IT procurement in the healthcare sector.
The expectations on businesses to act ethically and have procedures and tools in place to prevent bribery and corruption have never been higher. At the same time, the cases referred to are reminders that bribery takes many different forms and occurs in a wide range of businesses. Each business therefore needs to have customised procedures and tools in place to prevent, detect and deal with irregularities.
Check list for anti-corruption programmes – what boxes does your business tick?
Even though work to counteract corruption is far from something that can be done as a “box-ticking exercise”, there are a number of components that an anti-corruption programme must contain according to best practice:
✓ A clear position adopted by the management (tone from the top)
That means clear communication against corruption and also guaranteeing adequate resources and division of responsibility.
✓ Risk analysis
The starting point for the design of the programme are the risks faced by the organisation. The risk analysis therefore forms the basis for the remaining measures.
✓ Policies and guidelines
There must be an anti-corruption policy. This often needs to be supplemented by clear, specific guidelines that address identified risks.
✓ Communication and training
Much of the work to implement an anti-corruption programme consists of training. The view of anti-corruption and ethics also needs to be communicated in the business on an ongoing basis.
✓ Risk-based management of third parties
Intermediaries and other third parties used in the business must be checked on the basis of the risk of corruption (due diligence). Due diligence must also be carried out in corporate transactions on the basis of the risk of corruption.
✓ Reporting channels (whistleblowing)
In addition to the importance of continually capturing signals on irregularities, in accordance with new legislation all businesses with 50 and more employees must introduce implement a whistleblowing system from December 2021. All reports received must be taken seriously and an assessment must be carried out on whether they will lead to an investigation.
✓ Disciplinary measures and incentives
It is important for there to be consequences in the event of breaches of internal rules. Similarly, there should be incentives to act ethically and in accordance with rules and policies.
✓ Monitoring, supervision and overhaul
The programme needs to be subject to ongoing evaluation and overhaul. It will thus be possible to detect deficiencies and update the programme. Internal control systems are also required.
The scope of the programme and the actions that need to be taken for each component are always determined by the risks faced by the individual business. Important factors include the size of the organisation, the industry and the geographical markets in which the business is carried on.
We will also go through the various parts of an anti-corruption programme in more detail in a series of articles over the coming weeks. Keep an eye out on our anti-corruption page or register for the Lindahl newsletter.
Are you wondering what risks your business faces in terms of corruption or would you like a review or a sounding board in your work on the various aspects of preventing corruption? Perhaps you are thinking of kick-starting the year with anti-corruption training? You are very welcome to contact us for these and other questions in this field.