Globalization poses greater challenges for Anti-Bribery and Corruption compliance than ever before. Now any organization, regardless of size, sector or jurisdiction can certify its anti-bribery management system to an internationally recognized standard and join the effort to combat corruption.
Don’t underestimate the damage corruption inflicts upon the global economy. The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund report that somewhere between 1 to 2 trillion US dollars in bribes are paid each year with the total economic loss from corruption estimated to be many times that amount.
Bribery undermines trust established with the public, employees and business partners. Not to mention the direct financial losses victims suffer by overpaying for goods and services or by receiving substandard quality. More than any other type of occupational fraud, bribery leads to substantial financial and reputational damage according to the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners.
Swiss-based organizations are also at risk. Although Switzerland performs well on the global Corruption Perceptions Index – reporting relatively few incidences of bribery – Swiss-based organizations are still exposed to risks associated with corruption and bribery via international operations and third parties. Swiss regulators expanded the country’s anti-bribery laws last year to include the private sector; prohibiting and penalizing bribery by holding companies liable for corrupt practices under the Swiss Criminal Code.
New ISO standard tackles bribery and corruption
The new standard ISO 37001 “Anti-bribery management systems” addresses and mitigates bribery risk in both the public and the private sectors, covering local and international operations. Designed to help organizations combat bribery, it unifies leading regulators’ existing requirements on anti-bribery management systems and allows organizations to adapt the standard to meet their unique needs.
Any organization, regardless of size, sector or jurisdiction can now certify its anti-bribery management system to an internationally recognized standard.
Why implement the new anti-bribery standard?
Apart from minimizing the risk of bribery and the financial loss it causes, the benefits that certified organizations reap from ISO 37001 include:
- Additional assurance and demonstration of the organization’s commitment to conducting business in an ethical and transparent manner to stakeholders.
- Compliance with the global anti-bribery standard enhances market reputation, credibility and differentiates from competitors.
- Potential mitigating factor in the event of litigation, showing that the organization has taken adequate measures to prevent bribery.
To enjoy the benefits of certification, organizations must meet specific requirements set out by the Standard. These requirements range from demonstrating a verifiable commitment to combating bribery with top management playing an active role to regular audits assessing the performance of the anti-bribery management system.
As per official Standard guidelines, the organizations must specifically demonstrate that they:
- Establish and periodically review an anti-bribery policy prohibiting bribery,
- Implement and review the anti-bribery management system designed to identify the risk of, prevent, detect and respond to bribery,
- Have a dedicated anti-bribery compliance function that oversees the performance of the anti-bribery management system,
- Conduct regular bribery risk assessments in order to identify the bribery risks, and to further analyse them,
- Implement financial, operational and commercial controls to manage bribery risks,
- Ensure that business associates controlled by the organization have also implemented the anti-bribery management system or controls,
- Have demonstrated commitment and leadership of organization governing body and top management with respect to the anti-bribery management system,
- Conduct due diligence on personnel, third parties, specific transactions and activities,
- Provide regular anti-bribery awareness and training to personnel and business associates,
- Implement effective whistle-blowing procedures for reporting suspected or actual violations of the anti-bribery management system,
- Have implemented procedures enabling the organization to investigate reported incidents,
- Monitor, review and evaluate the performance and the effectiveness of the anti-bribery management system,
- Continuously improve the system and undertake the corrective actions when needed.
Ask for professional support
Depending on many factors including the maturity of an organization’s anti-bribery management system or the complexity of its operations, preparing for and implementing the ISO 37001 certification is demanding, both in terms of time and qualified resources.
External specialists with compliance and project management expertise are an asset at any stage of the anti-bribery management process: from designing anti-bribery controls, assessing readiness for certification or preparing for the Standard’s first periodic external audit.