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  • Governance I Risk I Compliance Management

Even on the smallest scale, corruption is corrosive, and just its suspicion can severely damage our reputation. A Transparency International survey found that 27 per cent of business people reported that they had lost business due to bribery by their competitors. The International Monetary Fund estimates that $2 trillion in bribes is paid annually in developing and developed countries.

According to The Economist, major violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) call for fines 10-15 times larger than just ten years ago. These are just a few reasons why CRI® Group founded the Anti-Bribery and Anti-Corruption ABAC® Centre of Excellence in 2016 to assist business organisations worldwide in Certification for anti-corruption, risk management and compliance.

 “As the world’s governing bodies gravitate to more stringent standards and efforts to prevent corruption, bribery and other unethical business practices, we stand ready to help companies meet and exceed those standards,” said Zafar Anjum, Group Chief Executive Officer of CRI® Group and ABAC® Group. ABAC® Group experts help educate, equip and support the world’s leading business organisations with the latest in best-practice due diligence processes and procedures.

Business leaders don’t need to look far to see how bribery and corruption and being caught out of compliance can have devastating implications. In 2015, Telia’s involvement in the Eurasia region was marred by a notorious corruption scandal that resulted in the Swedish group pulling out of several markets entirely, along with the departure of several senior executives. Sweden’s Telia Company AB was rung up for nearly $1 billion (U.S.) for FCPA violations. For Telia, criminal penalties combined with SEC fines totalled a staggering $965 million for bribery and corruption violations dating back to 2007 involving its telecom business in Uzbekistan. 

While this turbulent chapter in the operator’s history is now firmly behind it, the newly-disclosed ‘Pandora Papers’ – assembled by U.K. news outlet The Guardian in cooperation with the BBC – have revealed the identity of a key advisor to Telia and the role he played in the scandal. Mohamed Amersi, described as an “international dealmaker in the telecoms industry”, was paid around US$65m by Telia between 2007 and 2013 in his capacity as a consultant in the Eurasia region. (Developing Telecoms, 2022)

Telia isn’t alone. In 2017 Rolls Royce was punished to the tune of an $800 million (U.S.) global settlement last year that included a deferred prosecution with the U.K.’s Serious Fraud Office (SFO), the U.S. Justice Department and Brazilian authorities. The company was engaged in systemic bribery spanning 13 years and 22 countries. There are many other cases, such as:

  • Inter-American Water and Utility Society ended up paying around $1.5 million in fines for bribery cases in Columbia;
  • Daimler, the producer of one of the most famous brands in the automobile industry, Mercedez-Benz, paid $185 million to the United States against charges of bribery and corruption in 2010; 
  • Kellogg Brown and Root, the American engineering company, has been involved in several controversies. One of them was the Justice Department charging the company with paying bribes worth billions of dollars to Nigerian officials to earn foreign contracts. The company paid $402 million in fines while its former CEO was sentenced to 30 months in prison.
  • Alcatel-Lucent S.A., a French American telecommunications company, was engaged in a massive scandal in 2010. It had to pay at least $137 million in fines after bribing officials in several countries, including Malaysia, Honduras, and Taiwan.

Telia and Rolls Royce are egregious cases, but there are plenty of others on a smaller scale around the world – and any business owner would agree that just a fraction of those amounts in fines and settlements could be devastating to their organisation. And yes, the FCPA enforcement activity in 2021 was the lowest in a decade (according to Stanford Law School’s FCPA Clearinghouse). However, in today’s enforcement climate, it is not worth the risk of being out of compliance and lacking the necessary anti-bribery and anti-corruption controls.

That’s where the ABAC® Centre of Excellence comes in: offering a complete suite of world-class services and solutions designed to help organisations mitigate the internal and external risks associated with operating in multi-jurisdiction and multi-cultural environments.

A cornerstone of ABAC® is our ABAC program, which offers ISO/IEC 37001:2016 Anti-Bribery Management System training and Certification. Developed by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), this standard helps establish that an organisation has implemented reasonable and proportionate measures designed to prevent bribery.

Through ABAC®, CRI® Group was recently granted accreditation by the Dubai Accreditation Department (DAC) as an ISO 37001:2016 Anti-Bribery Management System Certification and Conformity Assessment Body – the first accreditation of its kind awarded to a certification body specialising in global anti-bribery and anti-corruption, risk and compliance standards. Organisations like Dubai-based Apex Shipping Services LLC have already completed the training and Certification and are positioned as ethical leaders in anti-bribery, anti-corruption and compliance.

The sooner organisations are certified to prevent bribery and corruption, the sooner they can build stronger and more beneficial relationships. And they will be better protected, with trained staff and effective controls in place to safeguard business and investments from fraud.

About ABAC®

Anti-Bribery Anti-Corruption (ABAC®) Center of Excellence is an independent certification body that provides education and certification services for individuals and organisations on a wide range of disciplines and ISO standards, including:

ABAC® offers a complete suite of solutions designed to help organisations mitigate the internal and external risks associated with operating in multi-jurisdiction and multi-cultural environments while assisting in developing frameworks for strategic compliance programs.

ABAC® is accredited by the United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS CB number: 10613) against ISO/IEC 17021-1:2015 Conformity assessment — Requirements for bodies providing audit and Certification of the scheme’s management systems of ISO 37001:2016 Anti-Bribery Management Systems (ABMS). This makes ABAC® Certification the leading accreditated certification body specialising in global anti-bribery and anti-corruption, risk and compliance management system standards. ABAC® experts audit any existing compliance and anti-bribery anti-corruption management systems to assess effectiveness and vulnerabilities while ensuring your organisation complies with Internal Standards, FCPA, U.K. Bribery Act, Anti-Money Laundering regulations, and all other global, regional and local regulations while maintaining a competitive edge in the world marketplace.

If you seek to validate or expand your existing compliance frameworks to maintain a competitive edge in the world marketplace, ABAC® can help you. Our experts audit your existing compliance and anti-bribery anti-corruption management systems to assess effectiveness and vulnerabilities while ensuring your organisation complies with Internal Standards, FCPA rules, U.K. Bribery Act laws, Anti-Money Laundering regulations, and all other global, regional and local regulations.