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Survey: Enforcement drives compliance, and whistleblowers rise

AlixPartners recently conducted its annual anticorruption survey which looked at the impact corruption has on corporate and economic growth. In particular, we explored the ways companies are identifying corruption risk and the steps they’re taking to deal with the risks.

Some key findings:

  • 85% of companies believe their industry is exposed to corruption risk, with 22% saying they believe they have lost business to competitors as a result of illicit payment to government officials
  • Russia and Africa were cited as posing the greatest corruption risk to overseas companies
  • 26% of executives said their companies have either aborted or delayed M&A and joint venture deals and 28% have cut partner relationships, due to potential corruption

The survey was conducted during the fourth quarter of 2014.

Respondents included corporate counsel, compliance officers, and other executives who deal with their company’s compliance and legal issues. They came from companies with annual revenue of $150 million or more in 20 sectors from eight major countries in North America, Europe, and Asia.

Aggressive regulatory enforcement of anti-corruption laws continues to drive corporate compliance programs. Eighty-one percent of the executives we surveyed said their companies had dedicated anti-corruption programs, or written anti-bribery and anticorruption policies. Meanwhile, 27% said their companies adopted such policies during the past five years. 

Whistleblower programs remain a key tool in identifying and dealing with corruption risk, we found. Nearly three quarters of U.S. companies we surveyed said they have company hotlines, while 20% of all companies said they received a tip related to possible corruption via their hotline within the past 12 months.

Despite the risks, many companies are not scaling back their overseas operations. Specifically, 66% of companies said they did not avoid a high-risk region due to possible corruption risk.

Due diligence is an important part of company compliance programs, according to our survey, particularly in relation to third parties, M&A transactions, and employees. While a majority of the companies we surveyed were confident about their due diligence procedures, respondents cited limitations on due diligence such as access to information (54%), the large number of third parties that need to be reviewed (41%), and cost (37%).   

The complete survey results are here.

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Harvey Kelly is the global leader of AlixPartners Financial Advisory Services group. He also serves as Global Head of Corporate Investigations at the firm.

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