• Governance I Risk I Compliance Management

The world has witnessed several high-profile bribery scandals that have captured global attention and shaken the business landscape. Among these scandals are the notorious cases involving The Goldman Sachs Group Inc, the Keppel Offshore & Marine bribery case in Singapore, the Petrobras scandal in the MENA region, and the 1MDB scandal in Malaysia. These breaking news scandals have shed light on the pervasive issue of corruption and bribery that can permeate both large and small organizations, causing severe repercussions and tarnishing reputations.

Corruption in the workplace can take many forms, from embezzlement and bribery to conflicts of interest and favoritism. The private sector, in particular, faces numerous challenges in identifying, preventing, and addressing corruption within their organizations. Private sector corruption poses a significant threat to the financial stability, reputation, and ethical standards of organizations.

In this blog, we will talk about different forms and manifestations of the private sector corruption as well as how you can combat it. By being aware of red flags and corruption risks, businesses can take proactive measures to ensure an ethical and transparent corporate culture.

Forms of Commercial Bribery and Kickbacks

Following are some famous forms of commercial bribery and kickbacks.

Cash Payments

Offering direct cash payments to employees of another company with the intention to influence business decisions is considered commercial bribery. In this form of bribery, the briber directly offers money to an employee or decision-maker in exchange for preferential treatment or a business advantage. Offering cash payments is an illegal practice and can lead to significant legal and reputational consequences for both the briber and the recipient.

Offshore Accounts

Offshore accounts have been a popular tool used by individuals and companies alike to channel bribes and other illicit funds. By creating offshore accounts or shell companies, individuals can conceal the origins of their illegal activity and evade detection by authorities. These entities are often set up in jurisdictions known for their secrecy and lax regulations, making it difficult for law enforcement to track down the individuals behind these accounts.


Favoritism and nepotism have long been considered unethical practices in the business world. These behaviours entail the granting of exclusive business opportunities and benefits to a particular supplier or contractor. This is done without conducting a fair and transparent competitive process in which multiple eligible suppliers have the chance to win the contracts. As a result, other suppliers and contractors may be deprived of equal opportunities to win contracts, which can lead to inflated prices and poor-quality work. 

Job Offers

Job offers are frequently used as a tool to gain an unfair advantage in business. By promising high-paying jobs or desirable positions to employees of rival companies, some individuals can obtain insider information and sway the outcome of business deals in their favor. However, this practice is not only unethical, but it also undermines fair competition and can lead to allegations of bribery and corruption. 

Supplier Manipulation

Supplier manipulation is a common tactic used to manipulate bids and tenders in order to ensure a specific supplier wins the contract. This can include sharing confidential information with one supplier, withholding information from others, or devising bidding criteria that only a certain supplier can meet. Supplier manipulation is a serious form of corruption that can lead to inflated prices and poor quality of work, ultimately harming the end customer. 

Expensive Gifts

Expensive gifts are another form of commercial bribery where the briber offers lavish and extravagant gifts to decision-makers or procurement staff in exchange for preferential treatment or favorable deals. These gifts can range from luxury watches, jewelry, vacations, or even cars. This form of bribery can be subtle and difficult to detect, making it an attractive option for those individuals seeking to influence business decisions in their favor. 

Travel and Entertainment

Providing all-expenses-paid trips, luxury vacations, or tickets to sporting events and concerts is another form of commercial bribery. These incentives are often extended to decision-makers or procurement staff with the purpose of influencing their business decisions. This type of bribery is often used by luxury companies in the hospitality or transportation industries that want to secure deals or contracts with other businesses. 


Involving a percentage of a contract’s value paid back to the employee or company who awarded the contract to the briber, kickbacks are a highly illegal form of commercial bribery. In this scenario, the bribery enters into an agreement where a portion of the contract value is paid back to the individual or company that awarded the contract. Kickbacks can take various forms, such as direct cash payments, gifts, or other types of incentives. However, the consequences of engaging in kickback schemes can be severe, including significant financial and legal liabilities, as well as damage to the participants’ reputation.

Sponsorships and Donations

Sponsorships and Donations are a common practice in the business world where companies offer financial support or donations to another company or individual. This is usually done with the expectation of receiving business benefits in return, such as increased brand visibility, publicity, or access to new markets.

Hidden Commissions

Hidden Commissions refer to the practice of paying higher-than-standard commissions to agents or intermediaries with the intention of influencing their decisions. This type of commission is usually paid for transactions involving large amounts of money or complex negotiations. Offering hidden commissions is often perceived as a corrupt behavior and can be detrimental to business relationships and reputation.

Insider Information

Providing confidential company information to outsiders in exchange for personal benefits. This unethical practice has the potential to severely compromise the company’s financial stability, damage its reputation, and even lead to legal action being taken against the perpetrator. Individuals who divulge insider information to outsiders put their own personal gain above the interests of the company and its stakeholders, leading to a breach of trust which can be hard to repair. It is vital for organizations to have strict policies and measures in place to prevent insider trading and to hold accountable those who breach this important ethical boundary.

Contract Manipulation

Altering contract terms or specifications to favor a specific company or individual. This deceptive practice can significantly disadvantage competitors, provide unjust enrichment to selected parties, and damage the integrity of the contracting process. Such manipulations can take many forms, including insider information sharing, bid-rigging, or extortion. Companies should strive to ensure that their contracting processes are transparent and fair, and that contracts are awarded based on merit and compliance with regulations.

Commercial Corruption & Bribery Red Flags - ISO 37001 Certification 

Commercial Corruption & Bribery Red Flags

  • Unexplained Increase in Vendor Payments
  • Lack of Proper Documentation
  • Unusual Gifts or Hospitality
  • Frequent Last-Minute Changes in Contracts
  • Abnormally High Commissions or Fees
  • Reluctance to Provide Information
  • Rapid Changes in Vendor Relationships
  • Unqualified or Inadequate Services
  • Inconsistent Pricing
  • Overlapping Business Interests

Identifying and addressing these red flags promptly is essential to prevent workplace bribery and corruption and uphold the integrity of the organization. Implementing robust anti-bribery and corruption measures can help create a culture of transparency and ethical behavior in the workplace.

Importance of Anti-Bribery Measures and Certification

Implementing anti-bribery measures and obtaining anti-bribery certifications are crucial for companies to combat corruption and protect their reputation. Here’s why it’s important:

Legal Compliance

Anti-bribery measures are essential for companies to comply with international laws, such as the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) and the UK Bribery Act. These laws impose serious penalties, including hefty fines, imprisonment, and even debarment from government contracts, on companies that engage in bribery and corrupt behavior. Implementing anti-bribery protocols helps businesses comply with these legal standards and avoid the legal and financial consequences of non-compliance. 

Risk Mitigation

Businesses that take measures to prevent bribery and kickbacks can significantly reduce the risk of financial losses, legal penalties, and reputational damage. Think about it. Would you choose to do business with a company that has been exposed for shady and corrupt dealings? Not likely. So, implementing effective anti-bribery measures is key to protecting your company’s brand and preventing any costly setbacks resulting from legal cases or public scrutiny. 

Ethical Reputation

Being known as an ethically sound company is crucial for gaining the trust and respect of stakeholders. Demonstrating a commitment to anti-bribery practices enhances your company’s ethical reputation and fosters trust among customers, investors, and employees alike. And let’s be honest, who doesn’t want to work for or do business with an ethical, trustworthy company? 

Competitive Advantage

Companies with anti-bribery certifications gain a competitive edge in the marketplace. Customers and investors are increasingly looking for companies that prioritize ethical business practices, and obtaining anti-bribery certifications like ISO 37001 can set your company apart from the competition by proving your commitment to ethical business practices. 

Improved Transparency

Anti-bribery measures promote transparency and accountability in business operations. By implementing strict anti-corruption protocols, companies can demonstrate their commitment to transparency in financial transactions, bidding processes, and other business dealings. This level of transparency fosters trust among stakeholders and gives them the confidence to work with your company for the long-term. 

Employee Morale

Employees are your company’s most valuable asset. A strong anti-bribery culture boosts employee morale and fosters a positive work environment. Implementing comprehensive anti-bribery protocols not only signals to employees that the company is committed to ethical behavior, but it also empowers them to act ethically themselves. This sense of ownership and empowerment enhances employee morale and drives a culture of positive corporate values. 

Sustainable Growth

By eradicating corruption, companies can achieve sustainable growth and long-term success. By prioritizing ethical business practices and implementing anti-bribery protocols, companies can build trust with customers, investors, and employees, leading to increased business partnerships and investment opportunities. This, in turn, allows for sustainable financial growth and long-term success. In short, anti-bribery practices pave the way for companies to achieve long-term growth and stability.

Mitigating Corruption and Bribery Risks with ABAC™’s ISO 37001 Anti-Bribery Management System (ABMS) Certification

In today’s business landscape, corruption and bribery pose significant threats to organizations of all sizes and types, whether public or not-for-profit. These unethical practices can lead to severe consequences, including financial losses, legal penalties, damage to the company’s reputation, and hindered sustainable development. To effectively combat bribery and corruption, organizations need to adopt a comprehensive and robust anti-bribery management system.

ABAC™’s ISO 37001 Anti-Bribery Management System (ABMS) certification offers a powerful solution to promote an ethical business culture and enhance controls to prevent corruption. This internationally recognized standard helps reduce the risk of bribery incidents and demonstrates to stakeholders that the organization has implemented good-practice anti-bribery controls.

Key Benefits of ISO 37001 ABMS Certification

  • Improved Transparency:
    Clear and concise anti-bribery policies promote transparency and trustworthiness.
  • Stronger Organizational Resilience:
    Assessment of bribery risks leads to better risk management and resilience.
  • Enhanced Operational Efficiency:
    Defined roles, responsibilities, and financial controls streamline processes.
  • Competitive Advantage:
    Certification showcases commitment to ethical practices, providing a competitive edge.
  • Improved Reputation:
    ISO 37001 helps build a strong reputation among stakeholders.
  • Increased Customer Confidence:
    Customers trust organizations with ISO 37001 certification.
  • Legal Compliance:
    Certification demonstrates adherence to international anti-bribery laws.

ABAC™ Center of Excellence Limited - A Global leader in Risk, Compliance and ABMS Certification and TrainingWhy Choose ABAC™ for ISO 37001 Certification

Protecting your business from the devastating impact of bribery and corruption is paramount in today’s competitive and ethical business landscape. ISO 37001 Anti-Bribery Management System (ABMS) certification provides a powerful framework to bolster your organization’s integrity and demonstrate a commitment to anti-bribery practices. When considering ISO 37001 certification, partnering with a specialized firm like ABAC™ (Anti-Bribery and Anti-Corruption) can be the key to achieving success. Here’s why:

Expertise that Counts

ABAC™ boasts a team of seasoned consultants with unmatched expertise in anti-bribery and anti-corruption measures. With a proven track record across diverse industries, ABAC™ consultants bring valuable insights, practical guidance, and best practices tailored to your company’s specific risks and needs.

Customized Solutions

ABAC™ takes the time to deeply understand your business operations, risks, and challenges. Armed with this knowledge, our consultants develop a customized approach that seamlessly aligns with your organizational objectives, culture, and existing compliance programs.

Identifying Vulnerabilities

ABAC™ conducts comprehensive risk assessments to uncover potential bribery and corruption vulnerabilities within your organization. Armed with this insight, ABAC™ formulates appropriate preventive measures and controls to safeguard your business.

Effective Policies and Procedures

Developing robust anti-bribery policies and procedures is crucial for ISO 37001 compliance. ABAC™ ensures your policies are comprehensive, align with the standard’s requirements, and are easily understood by all employees.

Empowering Your Team

ABAC™ offers targeted training sessions to raise awareness among your employees about bribery and corruption risks. This empowers your team to actively participate in the ABMS, fostering a culture of compliance and ethical conduct.

Third-Party Due Diligence

ABAC™ helps you establish effective due diligence processes to assess the integrity and compliance of third parties, such as vendors, suppliers, and business partners.

Seamless Implementation

ABAC™ consultants guide you through the entire ISO 37001 implementation process, ensuring a seamless integration of the ABMS into your existing management systems.

Ongoing Compliance Assurance

Regular monitoring and auditing are essential for sustained ISO 37001 compliance. ABAC™ conducts internal audits and reviews, identifying areas for improvement and reinforcing your commitment to anti-bribery practices.

Encouraging Whistleblowing

ABAC™ helps you establish confidential reporting mechanisms and whistleblower protection, encouraging employees and stakeholders to report suspected instances of bribery or corruption fearlessly.

Achieving Certification Excellence

ABAC™ stands by your side throughout the ISO 37001 certification journey, providing invaluable support in documentation, handling audits, and working with certification bodies to achieve successful certification.

To combat the risks of bribery and corruption in the business world, it’s crucial to equip your organization with the right tools and knowledge. By choosing ABAC™ for ISO 37001 certification, you can effectively establish a culture of compliance within your business, while setting a strong foundation for long-term growth.

This certification not only ensures your business complies with relevant laws and regulations, but also elevates your reputation, builds trust with stakeholders, and demonstrates your commitment to ethical business practices. Embracing the ethical standards and practices of ISO 37001 can help empower your organization to better tackle bribery and corruption risks, and foster a sustainable business environment.