According to the inaugural ECA Corruption Survey of business executives, in-house legal counsel, and other professionals operating in the Europe-Caucasus-Asia (ECA) region, 71 percent of respondents said that their country’s anti-corruption laws are ineffective and 62 percent said corruption is a significant obstacle to doing business. What are companies operating in the ECA region, which consists of countries that made up the former Soviet Union, doing to address corruption risks?
In such a climate, corporations would be well served by ensuring that they have particularly robust compliance programs, and the SEC and DOJ appear to agree, given their enforcement efforts related to the ECA region. Anti-corruption measures employed by companies doing business in the region, however, lag behind generally consistent compliance expectations set by the SEC and DOJ, UK authorities, the World Bank Group, OECD, and other sources.
The picture is nuanced — anti-corruption measures implemented by companies doing business in the ECA region appear to vary significantly by country and depending on the location of company headquarters. For example, among respondents from companies with headquarters in the ECA region, the survey found that only 61 percent had anti-corruption policies in place, while 89 percent of respondents from companies headquartered in the United States indicated that their companies had anti-corruption policies in place.
Analyzing the results on a country-by-county level paints a particularly interesting picture of compliance program implementation in the region. Approximately 92 percent of respondents for Kazakhstan and 82 percent of respondents for Russia indicated that their companies have anti-corruption policies in place.
Conversely, respondents for Estonia, Belarus, Latvia, and Georgia noted the lowest levels of implementation of anti-corruption safeguards at their companies. This mirrors the levels of corruption reported by survey respondents for the same countries. In Kazakhstan and Russia, for example, the plurality of respondents indicated significant corruption across most government institutions surveyed, whereas for Estonia, Belarus, Latvia, and Georgia, a plurality of respondents indicated only minimal or moderate corruption across the government institutions.
It appears that the countries with the highest implementation of anti-corruption measures by companies are the countries with the highest reported levels of corruption in government. One reason for these discrepancies may be that companies in high-risk jurisdictions are more attuned to corruption risk and therefore implement stronger compliance measures, though other explanations exist as well.
The chart below summarizes the aggregate responses of survey participants about their companies’ implementation of specific compliance safeguards.
Has your company taken any of the following steps to protect itself from corruption and/or corruption risk?
From a compliance perspective, it is important to remember that although often grouped based on their geographic region and shared history, the ECA countries are quite different in the level of corruption risk and the nature of corruption that businesses may encounter.
Companies operating in the region should, therefore, consider specific corruption risks present in each ECA country where they operate and tailor their compliance programs accordingly.
Maryna Kavaleuskaya is an Associate with Miller & Chevalier. She is a common and civil law trained lawyer. Her practice focuses on matters involving the FCPA, anti-corruption due diligence reviews and compliance audits, business and human rights, and other areas of international corporate compliance. Before starting her LL.M. program at Harvard Law School she practiced law in the ECA region where she focused on high-profile criminal cases. She is fluent in fluent in Belarusian, Russian, and Ukrainian.
Ann Sultan is Counsel in Miller & Chevalier’s International Department, where she focuses on internal and government investigations, international corporate compliance, and white collar defense related primarily to the FCPA. She advises corporate clients on a wide range of topics, including forensic and e-discovery processes, compliance assessment and risk management, and DOJ and SEC enforcement actions. She is fluent in Russian and often works with clients in the ECA region.
Michael Skopets is a Senior Associate with Miller & Chevalier, with the bulk of his practice devoted to compliance and investigations involving the FCPA and other forms of corporate corruption and fraud, U.S. sanctions, and other regulatory issues. He advises clients with respect to specific activities and transactions; designs and implements global compliance policies and programs; and conducts multinational internal investigations, due diligence, and risk assessments. He has Russian and Spanish fluency and cultural know-how.