A majority (70%) of respondents in Singapore believe that bribery and corruption has a negative impact on the business environment, compared to only 22% in South Asia countries, finds a news research from the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants.
The report, "Combatting Bribery in the SME Sector," was conducted by ACCA amongst 1000 of its global members. The findings reveal a concern that many SMEs are not taking the right steps to mitigate the risks of exposure to bribery and corruption.
“The results for Singapore show a country that is very aware of bribery and corruption, where SMEs seem to understand the legal definitions of bribery and corruption," comments Leong Soo Yee, head of ACCA Singapore. "But how do we as a global economy tackle bribery and corruption? The research respondents said the most effective methods would be whistle blowing laws and more high profile prosecutions.”
The report also finds that over half – 55% of respondents – have confidence in SMEs’ understanding of the legal definition of bribery and corruption, compared to only 24% in the UK, where there is the greatest level of sceptism about understanding of the legal definition of bribery and corruption in the country.
When asked if bribery and corruption was a concern for SMEs, 39% of Singapore respondents said this was the case, compared to just 22% in the least concerned UK and 77% in the most concerned Sub-Saharan Africa region.
Nearly half (46%) of respondents say that there should not be a modified legal framework for SMEs when it comes to anti-bribery and corruption laws compared with 70% in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Meanwhile, 71% said there was not enough advice and guidance for SMEs in dealing with bribery and corruption.
In the foreword to the report, Professor Mark Pieth, chairman of the OECD’s Working Group on Bribery and International Business Transactions says more can be achieved to tackle bribery and corruption, commenting: “To date, 306 companies and individuals have been sanctioned under criminal proceedings for foreign bribery since 1999. At least 83 of the sanctioned individuals were sentenced to prison. One company faced combined sanctions of €1.24bn for foreign bribery. However, sanctions have only been handed down in 13 of the 40 Convention countries. More can be done.”
Wilson Woo, Fellow of ACCA and President of the ACCA Singapore branch notes that the full restoration of trust and confidence in the business sector can only be achieved when people believe that business is being conducted fairly and transparently.
"By adopting a values-based approach, businesses can help themselves and, indirectly, help to achieve the wider goal of enhancing confidence in the business sector as a whole. Accountants, who have twin responsibilities to give best advice to their employers or clients and an obligation to act in the public interest, have a major part to play in this process,” says Woo.