Tag Archives: anti-corruption

How the Trade Facilitation Agreement Fights Corruption at the Border

Moving goods across borders is a source of corruption around the world.

The process of moving goods across borders is a major source of corruption around the world.

As the world commemorates International Anti-Corruption Day, renewed progress in the implementation of the Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) provides a reason for optimism in the fight against corruption.

Reached during last year’s World Trade Organization (WTO) accord in Bali, the TFA creates binding commitments across 159(+) WTO members to expedite movement, release and clearance of goods, improve cooperation on customs matters, and moreover, help developing countries effectively meet these obligations.

The TFA is also a potentially invaluable tool for tackling corruption as the simplification of customs procedures can greatly reduce opportunities for corruption. As the World Bank’s Customs Modernization Handbook sets forth, customs procedures are a key source of corruption, as officials and workers seek bribes in order to move goods in and out of the country.

Given the formidable barrier that corruption poses for both developed and developing countries, one may question how explicitly this agreement will challenge corruption, and what this will look like in terms of activities creating outcomes. In an Economic Reform Feature Service article released by CIPE today, Laura B. Sherman, senior legal adviser at Transparency International USA, breaks the larger TFA into its individual components and addresses in practical terms how each will translate into activities that prevent corruption.

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Anti-Corruption Compliance for Companies in Emerging and Frontier Markets

With bribery amounting to an estimated $1 trillion per year globally, corruption is now recognized to be one of the world’s greatest challenges. The costs of corruption affect the entire scope of international value chains – with the extra financial burden estimated to add at least 10 percent to the costs of doing business.

To comply with international anti-corruption norms and regulations, such as the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Anti-Bribery Convention, the U.K. Bribery Act, and the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, the private sector must take greater responsibility in working to eliminate corruption. Companies that operate internationally must therefore pay attention not just to ethical conduct of their own employees, but also to how their suppliers, distributors, and agents behave in countries where they work.

In turn, local companies that aspire to join global value chains need to understand the importance of anti-corruption and how to move from commitments to action. To support the private sector in this challenge, CIPE created Anti-Corruption Compliance: A Guide for Mid-Sized Companies in Emerging Markets, geared specifically at helping local firms introduce practical, yet effective anti-corruption compliance programs. In the latest Economic Reform Feature Service article, CIPE Director of Multiregional Programs Anna Nadgrodkiewicz highlights the strategic investment for local firms in anti-corruption compliance as well as key elements of effective compliance programs.

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Getting Creative about Saying “No!” to Corruption in Lebanon

Graffiti art produced at LTA-LABN’s public rally held in the Beirut Souks, September 12, 2014.

Graffiti art produced at LTA-LABN’s public rally held in the Beirut Souks, September 12, 2014.

CIPE partner the Lebanese Transparency Association (LTA) recently wrapped up a banner month in its fight against corruption in Lebanon. CIPE’s partnership with LTA dates back over ten years, and since 2012 CIPE has been supporting LTA through a grant from the U.S. Department of State’s Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI) to strengthen the rule of law in Lebanon. Our approach has been not only to raise public awareness, but also to empower citizens to exercise their rights. This effort has been consolidated primarily through the Lebanese Advocacy and Legal Advice Center (LALAC) and the Lebanese Anti-Bribery Network (LABN), both of which are housed and managed by LTA.

LALAC operates centers in Beirut, Bekaa, and Nabatieh, which are staffed by attorneys and legal assistants who field complaints of corruption from citizens across Lebanon. Through LALAC, citizens can report corruption by calling the LALAC hotline, writing a letter or e-mail, or visiting one of three centers in person.

LALAC Legal Advisor Carol Sabty, LTA Grassroots Manager Said Issa, and the author (center) discuss LALAC’s capabilities in the fight against corruption during an outreach session with citizens in Kfardebian, Lebanon.

LALAC Legal Advisor Carol Sabty, LTA Grassroots Manager Said Issa, and the author (center) discuss LALAC’s capabilities in the fight against corruption during an outreach session with citizens in Kfardebian, Lebanon.

Since CIPE’s direct support for LALAC began approximately one year ago, LALAC has achieved an unprecedented level of activity. A total of 453 complaints have been made during that time, 277 of which directly relate to corruption. In 224 cases, LALAC has provided citizens (“clients”) with legal advice on the process of vindicating their rights (short of providing representation in court) and sought resolution with cognizant public institutions.

If LALAC were a law firm, it would be doing a brisk business. But LALAC doesn’t bill its clients. It exists to empower the victims of corruption as champions for reform and to hold public officials accountable. LALAC has already worked directly with more than 15 public institutions to achieve resolution of individual cases and achieved some notable successes. Moreover, LALAC is negotiating memorandums of understanding (MOUs) with numerous public sector entities to cooperate in resolving complaints of corruption – remarkable progress in a country where openly talking about corruption was taboo not long ago.

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The Business Case for Putting Ethics at the Heart of Corporate Culture

Participants at Ethisphere

Participants at Ethisphere’s 2014 Europe Ethics Summit.

In today’s global business environment, corruption poses a risk that companies with operations around the world must understand and manage effectively. Those that do reap the benefits. As the Ethisphere Institute points out, the business case is clear: the five year annualized performance of the World’s Most Ethical (WME) Companies Index was 21 percent, beating S&P 500’s 18 percent. Similarly, the ten year annualized performance of the WME Index is, at 11.4 percent, significantly higher than that of S&P 500 at 7.4 percent.

The key to success in ethical business is placing ethics at the center of corporate culture and building strong compliance programs that can mitigate corruption risks. That was the overarching theme of the recent 2014 Europe Ethics Summit: Leadership through Ethics and Governance, hosted in London by the Ethisphere Institute and Thomson Reuters. The Summit was Ethisphere’s first such event in Europe and gathered nearly 150 compliance experts, professionals, and stakeholders.

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A Guide for Anti-Corruption Compliance: The New Imperative in Global Value Chains

ac-guide-cover

This post originally appeared on Corporate Compliance Trends.

In many countries, fighting corruption seems to be an impossible battle, especially for mid-sized companies with limited resources. While there is a broad global consensus that corruption suppresses competition and innovation, thus hampering entrepreneurship and economic growth opportunities, countering it presents a challenging task due to resistance to reform in corruption-tainted business environments. In many cases anti-corruption rules and regulations may be weak or unevenly enforced, government-led steps to fight corruption remain insufficient or ineffective, and bribes are a widely accepted part of doing business.

Yet businesses committed to anti-corruption are not helpless. They can lead by example by improving their own safeguards against corruption and act together to create a movement for integrity that makes clean business conduct the norm, not the exception.

In today’s globalized world, where international value chains stretch across borders and continents, anti-corruption compliance provides a vital competitive advantage. Ethical companies tend to have higher valuations, are more attractive to potential investors and employees, and are more likely to be engaged in long-term arrangements with their business partners. Increasingly, companies are expected to ensure not just the integrity of their own operations but also the conduct of their suppliers, distributors, and agents wherever they may be. Evidence of this comes from high-profile prosecutions of multinational firms that are not only subject to significant fines but also risk loss of share value and reputation.

CIPE’s newest publication, Anti-Corruption Compliance: A Guide for Mid-Sized Companies in Emerging Markets, is meant to help local companies around the world think about anti-corruption compliance as a strategic investment and take concrete steps to introduce or strengthen their internal compliance programs. Going forward, the guidebook will serve as the basis for CIPE training and capacity building initiatives for businesses in countries ranging from Kenya to Pakistan and Ukraine where, despite persistent challenges, many companies already are a part of global value chains or aspire to join them. In order to be competitive, they need tools outlined in the CIPE guidebook to translate their commitment to integrity into the day-to-day business operations. Stay tuned for the country updates!

Click here to get the guidebook.

Anna Nadgrodkiewicz is Director of Multiregional Programs at CIPE.

Reducing Third-Party Company Risks in Emerging Markets

sai-global-webinar

This post originally appeared on CIPE’s Corporate Compliance Trends blog.

As the world’s multinational companies seek profits in new, high-risk markets, they inevitably start depending on local businesses – third parties – to operate. Such partnerships bring with them both the promise of mutual growth and, for the multinational, responsibility for the behavior of its new local partner. That’s because aggressively applied laws such as the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) hold the multinationals responsible for third parties’ behavior.

Of the estimated 106 companies currently under investigation for FCPA-related violations, a significant number of them are related to suspected third party wrongdoing – assuming that past settlements made public are a reliable guide. So, how to reduce the corruption risks presented by doing business with third parties in developing countries where bribery is an accepted practice? CIPE is working on finding answers. So, too, is one of the world’s leading risk management firms,  SAI Global, which recently presented a webinar and offered a few tips on how to construct an anti-corruption training program for third parties.

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Citizens Work Together to Fight Corruption in Lebanon

lalac

A lab technician went to the office of a public official to renew her work contract with a municipal laboratory in northern Lebanon. Several days after submitting her request, the official’s secretary invited her to come to his office. Hoping to finally receive his signature on her contract renewal, the young woman arrived at the office only to find that he wanted to get her alone behind closed doors, where he allegedly proceeded to make verbal and physical sexual advances on her.

She fled the scene and tried to see if she could get her contract renewed through another government department, which only referred her back to the same official. Having no other alternative, the young woman went back to the official’s office in January 2014, but this time she was prepared with a hidden camera to capture his behavior on video.

In the mountains of Chouf, residents of Brih and neighboring villages were displaced during the 1975-1990 Lebanese civil war. Their lands were subsequently occupied by other families and, rather than evacuating the lands and returning them to their original owners, the Ministry of Displaced Persons in Lebanon ran a program to offer compensation to the displaced.

But in 2014, although other villages had been paid, the former people of Brih still had not received their compensation. When they submitted a complaint to the Ministry, it claimed that the payment had been issued. But with residents presenting evidence that they had never received compensation, the question arose: where had the funds gone?

These are the types of cases that Lebanese citizens report to the Lebanese Advocacy and Legal Advice Center (LALAC), an initiative launched by the Lebanese Transparency Association (LTA) as part of its program with CIPE to combat corruption in Lebanon. Through LALAC, citizens can report corruption by calling the LALAC hotline, writing a letter or e-mail, or visiting one of three centers in person. LALAC provides clients with legal advice on the process of vindicating their rights (short of providing representation in court) and tracks the progress of their cases.

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