On March 27, nine commercial banks jointly signed the Anti-Corruption Declaration of the Thai Institute of Directors (IOD). This Declaration lays out tangible and specific steps that a company must take to combat corruption on the part of its employees, managers and vendors, and is the unifying document of IOD’s Collective Action Against Corruption campaign.
With CIPE support and technical assistance, IOD has built a private sector coalition of Thailand’s largest businesses and most influential business associations united in their commitment to tackle the supply side of corruption. These nine banks are the latest to join this coalition, and they now take rank with Thai and multinational firms such as PTT, Thai Airways, Siam Cement, the Shin Corporation, Toshiba Thailand, Pfizer Thailand, and Siemens Thailand.
One of the business associations in IOD’s anti-corruption coalition is the Thai Bankers’ Association (TBA), and all nine of the banks that joined on Tuesday are TBA members. There are now 15 Thai banks in IOD’s coalition, representing the full membership of the TBA.
Speaking of the significance of this event, IOD President and CEO Bandid Nijathaworn said “this is a major step [in the fight against corruption] in that this is the first time that all of an association’s member companies are part of the coalition.” The Chairwoman of IOD, Khunying Jada Wattanasiritham, echoed these sentiments by explaining that this campaign is the paramount collective action initiative in Thailand today.
This event attracted considerable media attention, with the Nation – one of the country’s biggest English-language dailies – penning an article lauding the banks for their effort “to prevent and suppress graft.” But this was not a mere photo-op. To join IOD’s anti-corruption coalition, companies must make concrete promises, and concrete steps must be taken to fulfill these promises.
When a company or business association signs IOD’s Anti-Corruption Declaration, they pledge to implement strong anti-bribery policies and anti-corruption controls in their organization. They also pledge to send senior executives and compliance staff to IOD-led anti-corruption training programs. Perhaps most significantly, coalition members must submit to an external verification to certify whether or not they’re actually doing what they promise to do. If they aren’t, they will be removed from the coalition.
This private sector coalition, the members of which all voluntarily stepped forward to take part, is having a tremendous impact onThailand’s fight against corruption. Because corruption distorts markets, denies citizens and businesses the benefits of free competition, and retards economic development, reducing corruption is among Thailand’s paramount development goals.
Moreover, in a country in which rampant corruption has directly and repeatedly contributed to the destabilization of the political process, this anti-corruption initiative of the Thai Institute of Directors is making invaluable contributions to Thailand’s democratic development as well.