There is still the (dangerous) myth — especially in media and sometimes at enforcement agencies — that compliance has failed when a company reports acts of misconduct.
There is no doubt that an effective compliance system should of course prevent compliance violations. But do we really believe that in big organizations — private and public ones — thousands or even hundred thousands of employees every day obey the laws and the internal company rules?
Big organizations are like cities and their employees are part of a society. Have we ever seen a city without the need to have a police station and a court?
On the contrary, it is even so that companies which invest in compliance systems detect more than corporations turning a blind eye towards their risks. Whistleblowing channels are working and producing “output.” The allegations have to be investigated and — in case confirmed — disciplined and potential control deficiencies remediated. But now it becomes tricky. You have done everything in-house properly, now there is the question of voluntary disclosure towards — in the best case — one, but in international business often many different regulators.
On the occasion of the International Anti-Corruption Day on December 9 last week, the Business and Industry Advisory Committee to the OECD (BIAC) organized a roundtable with the OECD Working Group on Bribery, which is responsible for monitoring the implementation of the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention, one of the most important and powerful tools in the international fight against corruption.
The roundtable focused on two major topics where, in BIAC’s opinion, the OECD can play a key role:
(1) Addressing the demand side of bribery to help establish the necessary confidence for the business community, recognizing that solicitation poses a serious challenge for firms and discourages them from investing in countries where bribe demands are frequent, and
(2) Helping governments put in place a framework that incentivizes companies to build robust compliance programs and to self-report compliance breaches. If companies can be given legal certainty of not being punished for their cooperation, this can lead to major improvements in the fight against corruption.
BIAC calls upon the OECD and its members to forcefully engage themselves and foster international cooperation in these areas, working closely with the private sector. BIAC strongly believes that if we solve the topics raised, especially the issue how to incentivize voluntary self-disclosure, then this could be a major game-changer in the fight against corruption and bribery.
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The Business and Industry Advisory Committee to the OECD advocates for open markets, investment, and private-sector led growth. BIAC is the officially recognized voice of the international business community at the OECD. BIAC’s members are the major business organizations in the OECD member countries and a number of OECD observer countries. BIAC’s website is here.
Dr. Klaus Moosmayer is the Chief Compliance Officer of Siemens AG and leads the global Siemens compliance organization. At the end of 2013 he was appointed as Chair of the Anti-Corruption Taskforce of the Business and Industry Advisory Committee to the OECD (BIAC).