Free Antibribery Tools for Corporate Compliance Officers

By Alexandra Wrage|Corporate Counsel

Companies are asking their in-house compliance teams to make their budgets go further. Many compliance officers comment that their programs are expected, year upon year, to be more sophisticated and broader in reach—without raising costs to do so. And although there is a limit to how far travel, training, due diligence, and risk-assessment budgets can be stretched, there is some good news for corporate compliance officers: civil society and the philanthropic arms of some institutions have been working to develop compliance tools that are available to use at no cost.

Below is a sampling of some of the best bargains in antibribery and anticorruption tools for in-house counsel.

Benchmark Your Compliance Policy Against the Fortune Global 500

Industry and regional best-practices groups are springing up everywhere. Companies want to know how their policies measure up to those at peer companies. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), in partnership with PricewaterhouseCoopers and with funding from the Swedish government, recognized this gap in the compliance market and set out to build a database of company policies. It can be reassuring to see how similar antibribery policies are across companies and where your company stands on the spectrum. Scanning the work of others in this area is always eye-opening.

Monitor the Guidance Provided by the Enforcement Community

OECD Guidance

The OECD’s Good Practice Guidance [PDF] was adopted in February 2010 as an integral part of the recommendation of the Council for Further Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions. The purpose of the guidance is to help companies, business organizations, and professional associations to ensure “the effectiveness of internal controls, ethics, and compliance programmes,” and is designed with enough flexibility to be adapted by small- and medium-sized enterprises. The guidance recommends a tailor-fitted approach based on a careful assessment of the particular risks of each situation. It offers a 12-point outline for good practices:

  1. Support by senior management for the company’s internal controls.
  2. A clearly articulated corporate policy prohibiting foreign bribery.
  3. Compliance with all aspects of the stated policy.
  4. Oversight and reporting of ethics and compliance programs.
  5. Prevention and detection measures covering gifts and hospitality, travel, political contributions, charitable donations, facilitation payments, solicitation, and extortion.
  6. Contractual implementation of programs for third-party intermediaries.
  7. Appropriate accounting procedures with adequate internal controls.
  8. Communication and training.
  9. Positive support for ethics compliance.
  10. Disciplinary procedures to address violations.
  11. Effective measures for confidential reporting, as well as guidance.
  12. Periodic reviews of ethics and compliance programs.

U.K. Serious Fraud Office Guidance

In March 2011, the U.K. Serious Fraud Office published guidance regarding “procedures which relevant commercial organisations can put into place to prevent persons associated with them from bribing.” The SFO’s guidance centers around six principles, and although not prescriptive, it offers commentary and examples to develop understanding of each principle:

  1. Proportionate procedures
  2. Top-level commitment
  3. Risk assessment
  4. Due diligence
  5. Communication
  6. Monitoring and review

Stay on Top of Trends

There are many very good antibribery blogs and email alerts, dense with information and updated several times each week. Many are promoting or actually selling compliance services, so they tilt toward the fear-mongering end of the spectrum. A sophisticated reader can nevertheless learn much from the hard work of these authors and benefit from having succinct updates dropped into their inboxes on a daily basis.

For two very different angles, consider Corruption Currents, run by the Wall Street Journal, and Open Air Blog, run by Howard Sklar, who has worked in-house with American Express and Hewlett Packard. Corruption Currents provides a comprehensive survey of developments in this area, and Open Air Blog provides a more opinionated but well-presented (text and video) and reasonable review of the issues, all without needless hyperbole. Both help harried in-house counsel keep a finger on the pulse of the antibribery community.

Monitor Foreign Local Laws

UNODC recently launched a new website: Tools and Resources on Anti-Corruption Knowledge (TRACK). Although designed primarily for the international enforcement community, there is a well-organized library of local laws, linked to each article of the United Nations Convention Against Corruption. Less than a year old, the site has good content now and promises more.

The Group of States against Corruption (GRECO) was established in 1999 by the Council of Europe to monitor states’ compliance with anticorruption standards. Membership in the organization is not limited to Council of Europe States, and now includes 48 European States and the United States. GRECO’s aim is to enhance the anticorruption capacities of its members by identifying deficiencies and encouraging legislative, institutional, and practical reform, through an ongoing mutual-evaluation process. GRECO offers resources for sharing best practices, as well as reports on anticorruption legislation and enforcement in all of its member states.

Other international organizations offer a range of training tools and information. The OAS’ Anti-Corruption Portal of the Americas provides model laws, training programs, and tools categorized by topic. With a mandate to develop and promote the adoption of harmonized codes of conduct of public officials, the African Union’s Advisory Board on Corruption offers a strategic plan for combating corruption through 2015. The regional focus of these organizations can be useful to multinational companies, as it helps shape policies and procedures that meet culturally acceptable standards without compromising on efficacy.

Baseline Due Diligence

TRACE, the author’s organization, has launched a free global due diligence platform: TRAC. TRAC collects key due diligence and compliance information, verifies entity addresses and business registration documents, and then screens all names against international watchlists on a daily basis. Companies can link to their third parties through the system and will then receive an email when there is any material change in status. It’s a powerful tool that finally helps the business community share due diligence information—with the TRAC-holders’ permission—instead of replicating the efforts of their colleagues at other companies.

Training Tools

The Partnering Against Corruption Initiative (PACI) of the World Economic Forum is a global anticorruption initiative developed by companies, for companies. The initiative offers risk-mitigation guidance for companies, including help designing and implementing effective policies, benchmarking internal practices, and using collective action as a tool to improve transparency and level the playing field. In cooperation with the International Chamber of Commerce, Transparency International, and the United Nations Global Compact, PACI makes available training scenarios so that employees can learn how to avoid extortion.

The OECD offers guidance in the form of antibribery typology reports, in which the OECD Working Group on Bribery in International Business Transactions presents analyses of methods and patterns in corruption cases. Although designed for use by international organizations, law enforcement authorities, governments, and scholars, they provide the corporate compliance officer with a top-down view of enforcement trends and techniques. While providing insights for enforcement authorities, the reports help in-house and outside counsel shape policies and procedures on the ground. The typology reports include a recently issued booklet on the identification and qualification of the proceeds of bribery, as well as an explanation of the role of intermediaries in international business transactions, and a publication on bribery in the public procurement process.

Industry-specific resources are also available to the compliance practitioner. One such initiative is theanticorruption training manual produced by the Global Infrastructure Anti-Corruption Center (GIACC), in collaboration with the U.K. branch of Transparency International. The training manual is designed specifically for the infrastructure, construction, and engineering sectors, with the aim of helping professionals in these industries understand corruption and how to avoid it. The manual is intended for use by companies as part of their training.

Currently, two versions of the manual are available: the international version, and the version written specifically for use in England and Wales. In addition, GIACC offers a free online anticorruption training module, available in seven languages and intended for use either by individuals, or by professional institutions and organizations as part of their member and employee training programs. The training module is aimed primarily at middle and senior management whose work involves procurement, tendering, sales and marketing, design, project management, claims management, commercial management, financial management, legal, compliance, and internal audit.

Another similar resource, Ethicana, a 42-minute training video about corruption in the global construction industry, is a powerful training tool made available to the public free of charge by the Anti-Corruption Education and Training Initiative, a consortium of 12 cooperating agencies, including the American Society of Civil Engineers. While also specific to the engineering and construction industries, the bribery situations introduced in the film have broad applicability and serve as a springboard for substantive discussions on responding to corruption across industries. The film is subtitled in 28 languages and supplemented by other comprehensive training materials.

This is just a fraction of the online resources available to aid corporate anticorruption efforts. With such a wide variety of excellent, up-to-date, and free resources, the compliance professional may find that their compliance budget extends further than they expected. By leveraging these free tools and resources, in-house counsel can address many key issues while reallocating resources to other critical areas of compliance.

Alexandra Wrage is the president of TRACE, an antibribery compliance organization offering benchmarking, practical tools and services to multinational companies. She also serves on the Independent Governance Committee of the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), football’s governing body. Prior to founding TRACE, Ms. Wrage was international counsel at Northrop Grumma

Leave a Reply