On the occasion of the International Anti-Corruption Day 2020 this December, ABAC® highlights that “saying NO TO CORRUPTION” is not enough and draws attention to how organisations’ different departments can take the action now and contribute towards businesses’ fight against bribery and corruption risks.
ABAC® have been supporting the International Anti-Corruption Day every year in many forms including organising seminars to raise awareness on bribery and corruption risks, publishing multiple thought leadership pieces and guides on anti-bribery, anti-corruption, risk and compliance management, certifying and training businesses worldwide on anti-bribery, anti-corruption, and risk management. This year, ABAC® aims to highlight that it’s everyone’s job in the organisation to contribute towards ethical and transparent business relationships. “We would like to encourage each and every department within organisations to recognise that they could improve in their daily business operations which could help to promote more transparency and compliance. It’s everyone’s responsibility, and corruption is everyone’s problem – we need to give our employees the tools they need to recognise, detect and report bribery, corruption or any other illegal behaviour. Together with the parent organisation CRI Group, ABAC® offers the Ethics and compliance hotline – a tool designed to help employees, as well as clients, contractors, vendors and others in a business relationship with CRI Group and ABAC Group report any illegal, unethical, or improper behaviour”, says ABAC® CEO Zafar Anjum.
Bribery and corruption do not wait and can happen anytime – we encourage you to think about anti-bribery and anti-corruption not only on International Anti-Corruption Day 2020 but all year round. Explore our resources, or sign up for risk management, compliance, anti-bribery and anti-corruption related news, solutions, events and publications in your inbox. We will be happy to hear from you if you have any questions at all – contact us today or get a quote for any anti-bribery, anti-corruption, risk or compliance management solutions.
Meet the ABAC® team
ABAC® interviewed team members working in areas of ABMS auditing, ABMS training, compliance, operations, human resources, finance, business development, marketing, information security, and investigations about their daily fight against bribery and corruption. Meet ABAC® team and read on the interview below to hear the industry insights directly from our experts.
Huma Khalid, Scheme Manager | Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Ayesha Sikander, Associate Director / Group Human Resources Manager | Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Raza Shah, Marketing & BD Executive | Islamabad, Pakistan
Taha Sheryar, Group Information Security Officer / Admin Officer | Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Raheel Shahzad, Assistant Manager Investigations | Islamabad, Pakistan
Hasnin Anwar, Sales Consultant | Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Sidra Azam Baig, Assistant Manager HR / Accounts Officer | Islamabad, Pakistan
Q: How are you/your department fighting bribery and corruption daily?
Huma Khalid: As a Scheme Manager, my core responsibility is to ensure impartiality in delivering audit and certification services. For every client, I undertake a risk assessment, in which financial impartiality is one aspect. When appointing and delegating audit team, I ensure that all members are aware of the anti-bribery and anti-corruption policy and act objectively and ethically throughout the audit process.
Ayesha Sikander: Corruption and bribery can affect all aspects of HR processes. The main risk areas which I as an HR professional see is nepotism and abuse of authority which can come in a way of talent acquisition, training, promotion and appraisals. So accountability, transparency in processes, stringent check & balance mechanism in the processes is required in order to have effective internal controls in all HR processes to avoid bribery and corruption at all levels of HR activities.
Raza Shah: I make sure everyone in my team follows the SOPs and policies and executes tasks with honesty, following the professional ethics and norms.
Taha Sheryar: We follow ISO 37001 guidelines on a daily basis, and we have very strong monitoring controls in place. Overall, processes and activities in the Information Security Department were reviewed by the Independent Department. This International Standard help us to prevent, detect and address bribery by adopting an anti-bribery policy, appointing a person to oversee anti-bribery compliance, training, risk assessments and due diligence on projects and business associates, implementing financial and commercial controls, and instituting reporting and investigation procedures.
Raheel Shahzad: I also ensure that I and my team members follow the code of conduct and perform our tasks with integrity, diligence and follow the set standards and procedures.
Hasnin Anwar: We have standard practices that we follow at the workplace that keep the organisation bribery- and corruption-free. We have clear protocols that set the clear standards and guidelines in the workplace, and open communication within the workgroup. Business owners and managers encourage a general sense of communication that let employees have an understanding that it is easy and simple to approach when we have concerns. Also, we encourage oversight in financial transactions and practice a proper whistleblowing policy within the group.
Sidra Azam Baig: In the finance department, the risk of bribery is mostly associated with unauthorised payments to internal officials and third-party vendors. When financial controls are not in place to verify the purpose of payment, then the risk of bribery will increase. At ABAC® we are following this practice in order to reduce the risk of bribery. In my opinion, all finance professionals should ensure that all third party invoices and payments have to be crosschecked to an authorised contract and for the legitimate services. If the third party does not provide adequate justification for the services then the company should withhold the payment until complete information is provided.
Q: What could you advise to other professionals in your field in regards to anti-corruption awareness and compliance management?
Huma Khalid: Companies tend to do cost-cutting in the development and training of employees, especially when it comes to non-technical matters. However, under the principle of Corporate liability, there is corporation’s legal responsibility for actions undertaken by the company itself or its employees (or agents working on its behalf), that could be considered unlawful.
Ayesha Sikander: I would advise the HR Fraternity that usually when we talk about corruption and bribery, most organisations direct the focus to their compliance and legal personnel. But HR professional should make themselves aware of anti-corruption policies in their domain because corruption is not always referred in terms of monetary terms – there are non-monetary corruption practices as well. For example, if you are hiring someone who is not matching the competency criteria of a job but is a relative of the board member then this is a form of corruption. Similarly, if you are providing professional development and training opportunities to an employee who is not even relevant to the training based on TNA conducted, but he/she has been provided with a training opportunity only because he/she is in good terms with HR or management. This is corruption. This could be avoided by having strict internal controls and processes. Also, one message that I really want to convey to my fellow HR fraternity members is that apart from compliance team, HR should also provide awareness of whistleblowing and complaint management procedure on a frequent basis and encourage employees to highlight any corrupt practices in the organisation without any fear. It is largely observed that employees who observe corruption or are forced into such a situation usually stay quiet because of a fear of losing their job. So, if we have strong procedures in place ensuring anonymity of whistleblower then we – HR professionals – can also play a major role in fighting corruption in the organisation.
Raza Shah: The anti-bribery anti-corruption awareness and related messages can be communicated by line management and this should also enable discussions on the key issues. Feedback and concerns stated at discussions should be noted and provided to the compliance function in order to contribute to improving the anti-bribery corruption awareness. The approach should be to build the trust and confidence of employees in their right and access to voice and discuss concerns on anti-bribery issues with management.
Taha Sheryar: I would suggest that organisations must have ISO 37001 Anti-bribery Management System Standard in place, as this is a great tool to implement anti-bribery and anti-corruption procedures.
Raheel Shahzad: Bribery and corruption are deep-rooted in businesses and daily life and masked as custom, so there is an immediate need to develop awareness about how bribery and corruption schemes can manifest themselves and take preventive action to counter these risks. There is also a need for strong reporting mechanism in place to ensure that incidents taking place are being reported, investigated and resolved.
Hasnin Anwar: We conduct business lawfully and ethically around the world. Understanding anti-corruption laws and promoting a culture of compliance, and its implications help us do that. In my opinion, other organisations should do the same. There are few simple steps to promote anti-corruption awareness and compliance management, such as senior management’s commitment towards anti-corruption & compliance management; having effective standards and controls, which derives from the culture of compliance; frequent communication from senior management reminding employees of the importance of anti-corruption compliance; regular Compliance training and ongoing monitoring & auditing.
Sidra Azam Baig: The culture is ultimately set by the tone at the top, whether that be senior management or head of departments who regularly talk about ethical issues, support staff to uphold the ethical standards, and behave in an open and transparent way, send the message to all employees, that the fight against corruption is taken seriously. If senior management declares the zero-tolerance approach to bribery and corruption, they must demonstrate that they will support that even when losing the contracts. We have to create a culture of integrity and openness where ethical dilemmas arising from the business in corruption are properly discussed with the employees and they must feel supported to do the right thing. This is a powerful way to help mitigate the risk of an ethical lapse.
Q: Have you ever encountered bribery and corruption or been offered/requested a bribe? What actions did you take, how did you report it?
Huma Khalid: No, I have not encountered a situation where I have been offered a bribe. However, if this situation was to arise, I will report it to the Managing Director.
Ayesha Sikander: I personally did not encounter any bribery and corruption scenario, but a friend of mine who is also from HR fraternity faced a situation where the team of consultants were paid bonuses annually subject to their project success from a project’s budget. Only consultants were eligible for the bonus, not the support team. One time when the bonuses were approved by HR and were passed onto accounts department for review and disbursement, the accounts person asked the consultants: if they want the bonus, they will have to transfer a certain percentage from their bonus amount to accounts person. Initially, consultants resisted and made a complaint to the HR representative, and HR person when reported this to senior management. Unfortunately, one member of senior management was also involved in this together with accounts representative. Consultants resisted the same and due to lack of adequate procedures and controls, they were not paid bonuses because they didn’t want to be part of this corruption scheme. Unfortunately, consultants paid the price of their ethical and moral values by forgoing their bonuses.
Raza Shah: Luckily, I have never encountered such a situation. If I will ever face such an issue, I’ll follow the whistleblowing policy.
Taha Sheryar: Information security personnel are the key assets of any organisation. They are always at high risk because they have access to all confidential information companies are dealing with. If they were bribed, they may provide all the confidential information to the competitors or other people who attempt to damage their organisations. This type of bribery is faced frequently – there are many organisations and/or individuals who approach information security teams and offer us huge amounts of money or dream jobs in return to desired confidential information which we have.
Luckily in our organisation, we have ISO 37001 guidelines in place and our processes are very transparent. When we find any suspicious activity like this, we raise it to the relevant department as per our processes and procedures.
Raheel Shahzad: During client interaction at site visits, I have never encountered any situation which can be categorised under bribery. But let’s suppose I face such an incident – my immediate response would be declining the offer and reporting it to the compliance officer.
Hasnin Anwar: Luckily, I have never experienced bribery/corruption in the corporate level, but once I had to report the police officer to his superior in charge as the policeman was seeking bribes.
Sidra Azam Baig: No, we haven’t experienced this before. We take a zero-tolerance approach to bribery and corruption and are committed to acting professionally, fairly and with integrity in all our business dealings and relationships. In future, if we will face any such situation, we will surely report that and take action.
Q: In your opinion, what is the biggest risk the bribery and corruption possess?
Huma Khalid: Bribery and corruption have far-reaching impacts and manifest themselves in multiple forms. Let’s take the example of a common form of corruption in workplaces which is nepotism. Perceived favouritism and unfair hiring/promotion cause dissatisfaction and low morale among employees which in turn leads to demotivation to perform and loss of productivity. Such employees may also feel they are “above law” and engage in abusive behaviour or engage in other corruption schemes with an assurance of having top-level support and not being caught or monitored. On other hand, employees who feel unjustly treated may seek other forms of compensation and engage in other corruption schemes. Such actions can result in financial liability for the company. What appears to be harmless at first and granted as a favour may have far-reaching consequences in the long term.
Ayesha Sikander: The major risk associated with bribery and corruption whether at an organisational level or individual level is reputational damage. And in regions where there are regulatory compliance guidelines against corruption and bribery, then in such cases that guilty organisation or individual will be penalised with hefty fines.
Raza Shah: I would list the following major threats: reputational damage in the market, negative publicity, negative impact on prospects, damage of trust.
Taha Sheryar: If any organisation’s or its employees are bribed, the organisation’s reputation might be highly damaged, it also will face huge fines. Not worth risking!
Raheel Shahzad: I would highlight these risks: reputational damage, imposing fines by regulators, negative media exposure, loss of clientele and loss of trust overall.
Hasnin Anwar: I would say, corruption increases the cost of education in countries, where bribery and connections play an important role in the recruitment and promotion of teachers. As a result, the quality of education decreases and this affects the overall health of the economy worldwide.
Sidra Azam Baig: The biggest risk associated with bribery and corruption is the reputational damage. If any individual gets involved in bribery and corruption, it will impact the entire brand image. Other risks can be financial loss, negative effect on employee morale, increased scrutiny or criminal charges.
At ABAC®, we understand how important ISO 37001 training is for your career, team and organisation – a company’s own employees are its best protection against corruption. Statistics show that most corruption is detected internally. Give yourself and your employees the tools they need to prevent bribery and mitigate related risks.
Achieving ISO 37001 training in Introductory, Internal Auditor and/or Lead Auditor courses is a proactive way of demonstrating your organisation’s commitment to ethical sustainability. Your employees will be able to recognise any form of corruption, and report it. Our trainers are the best in the business. They’re passionate about sharing their knowledge with you and/or your employees. ABAC® trusted experts have years of hands-on and business experience – they bring the subject matter to life with relevant and contemporary examples.
Complete our FREE Highest Ethical Business Assessment (HEBA) and evaluate your current Corporate Compliance Program. Find out if your organisation’s compliance program is in the line with worldwide Compliance, Business Ethics, Anti-Bribery and Anti-Corruption Frameworks. Let ABAC® experts prepare a complimentary gap analysis of your compliance program to evaluate if it meets “adequate procedures” requirements under UK Bribery Act, DOJ’s Evaluation of Corporate Compliance Programs Guidance and Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission.
The HEBA survey is designed to evaluate your compliance with the adequate procedures to prevent bribery and corruption across the organisation. This survey is monitored and evaluated by qualified ABAC® professionals with Business Ethics, Legal and Compliance background. The questions are open-ended to encourage a qualitative analysis of your Compliance Program and to facilitate the gap analysis process.
The survey takes around 10 minutes to complete. TAKE THE SURVEY HERE!
ABAC®, powered by CRI Group, is excited to be celebrating a four-year anniversary since the formation of the ABAC® Center of Excellence.
During past years, ABAC® expanded in different regions, achieved accreditation by the world’s leading accreditation service provider, thoroughly audited and certified international clients and built relationships with local and regional organisations to strengthen the fight against bribery and corruption. ABAC® sincerely thanks to all clients, partners and global teams for being together in this journey and wishes for many more years of continuous partnerships.
ABAC® Center of Excellence is an independent certification body powered by CRI Group. ABAC® offers a complete suite of services and solutions designed to educate, equip and support the world’s leading business organisations with the latest best-in-practice risk & performance assessments, systems improvement & standards certification. Find out more about ABAC®!
ABAC® programs protect your organisation from damaging litigation & safeguard your business in the global marketplace by providing certification & training in internationally recognised ISO standards, such as ISO 37001 Anti-Bribery Management Systems, ISO 19600 Compliance Management Systems and ISO 31000 Risk Management Systems.
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