Companies should put in place strict internal controls and establish ethics and compliance programmes as part of a strategy to combat bribery in international business deals, according to a new guidance agreed by the 38 countries that are part of the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention.
From March 2010, the OECD Working Group on Bribery - made up of representatives from these 38 nations - will monitor countries’ progress in encouraging their companies to implement the Good Practice Guidance on Internal Controls, Ethics and Compliance.
“Too few companies are aware of how damaging foreign bribery is to their business, their industry and the world economy. Bribery distorts everyone’s ability to compete in a global market,” notes OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría. “This is the most comprehensive guidance ever provided to companies and business organisations by an international organisation on this issue and marks another step forward in the fight against bribery.”
Specifically, the Good Practice Guidance calls on businesses to:
• Adopt a clear and visible anti-bribery policy that is strongly supported by senior management;
• Instill a sense of responsibility for compliance with the policy at all levels of the company, as well as independent compliance structures;
• Keep up regular communication and training on foreign bribery for all employees, as well as with business partners; and
• Encourage observance of anti-bribery compliance measures, and disciplinary procedures to address their violations.
The Guidance also recommends that business organisations play a leading role in providing information, advice and training to companies, especially small- and medium-sized enterprises, on how to protect themselves against the risk of foreign bribery.