Getting Creative about Saying “No!” to Corruption in Lebanon

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Graffiti art produced at LTA-LABN’s public rally held in the Beirut Souks, September 12, 2014.

Graffiti art produced at LTA-LABN’s public rally held in the Beirut Souks, September 12, 2014.

CIPE partner the Lebanese Transparency Association (LTA) recently wrapped up a banner month in its fight against corruption in Lebanon. CIPE’s partnership with LTA dates back over ten years, and since 2012 CIPE has been supporting LTA through a grant from the U.S. Department of State’s Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI) to strengthen the rule of law in Lebanon. Our approach has been not only to raise public awareness, but also to empower citizens to exercise their rights. This effort has been consolidated primarily through the Lebanese Advocacy and Legal Advice Center (LALAC) and the Lebanese Anti-Bribery Network (LABN), both of which are housed and managed by LTA.

LALAC operates centers in Beirut, Bekaa, and Nabatieh, which are staffed by attorneys and legal assistants who field complaints of corruption from citizens across Lebanon. Through LALAC, citizens can report corruption by calling the LALAC hotline, writing a letter or e-mail, or visiting one of three centers in person.  Read More...

“FCPA Professor” Criticizes Focus on Corporate Enforcement Actions

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Known as “The FCPA Professor” for his highly trafficked blog, Southern Illinois University Law Professor Mike Koehler spoke in Washington, DC on October 2, 2014 about what he sees as flaws in the way FCPA enforcement is carried out.

In his latest book, The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act in a New Era, Koehler dissects recent developments and trends related to the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) and its enforcement. Although often a critic of FCPA prosecutions, Koehler maintains that the law itself is sound and apt – even for today’s globalized corporate environment.

He submits, however, that a gap exists between the text of the FCPA statute and current DOJ and SEC enforcement. Koehler ties this gap to the large number of corporate actions, which almost always lead to out-of-court settlements, as opposed to actions against individuals which would require greater judicial review.

Read more…

The Business Case for Putting Ethics at the Heart of Corporate Culture

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Participants at Ethisphere

Participants at Ethisphere’s 2014 Europe Ethics Summit.

In today’s global business environment, corruption poses a risk that companies with operations around the world must understand and manage effectively. Those that do reap the benefits. As the Ethisphere Institute points out, the business case is clear: the five year annualized performance of the World’s Most Ethical (WME) Companies Index was 21 percent, beating S&P 500’s 18 percent. Similarly, the ten year annualized performance of the WME Index is, at 11.4 percent, significantly higher than that of S&P 500 at 7.4 percent.

The key to success in ethical business is placing ethics at the center of corporate culture and building strong compliance programs that can mitigate corruption risks. That was the overarching theme of the recent 2014 Europe Ethics Summit: Leadership through Ethics and Governance, hosted in London by the Ethisphere Institute and Thomson Reuters. The Summit was Ethisphere’s first such event in Europe and gathered nearly 150 compliance experts, professionals, and stakeholders.  Read More...

Ghana: A Trendsetter for Resource-Rich Emerging Markets?

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In four out of six petroleum agreements recently approved by Ghana’s Parliament, the government required oil and gas producers to certify compliance with the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), UK Bribery Act, and OECD Anti-Bribery Convention. At an event in June sponsored by the Ghana government, the FCPA was referred to as model legislation for fighting abuses in the oil and gas industry. This new standard highlights the importance of anti-corruption compliance for companies and businesses seeking to do business in global markets. Read more…

Case Studies: Advancing Anti-Corruption Efforts in Armenia and Thailand

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Corruption is a systemic problem that plagues many transitional countries across the world, rooted in weak rule of law and lack of private property rights. Not only does corruption erode trust in public institutions, such practices also hinder economic growth and weaken democratic governance.

The corruption challenge can be addressed by building responsive institutions that offer basic assurances of private property rights and ensure law and order. CIPE programs address the root causes of corruption through a multi-pronged approach. CIPE programs mobilize the private sector to raise anti-corruption standards and advocate for reforms; streamline regulations and reduce implementation gaps to limit opportunities for corruption; improve corporate governance to strengthen firm-level integrity; facilitate collective action to level the playing field and coordinate company efforts; and equip small and medium-sized enterprises to resist bribery and meet the requirements of global value chains.

Two recent case studies, described below, show these CIPE approaches in action.  Read More...

The Role of International Trade Agreements in Fighting Corruption

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Cargo ships in Rotterdam Harbor. In 2013, trade between the U.S. and EU totaled more than $650 billion.

Cargo ships in Rotterdam Harbor. In 2013, trade between the U.S. and EU totaled more than $650 billion. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

The next year is shaping up to be a big one for multilateral free trade agreements and, by extension, efforts to fight corruption in international commerce.

First, there is the historic Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) that grew out of the World Trade Organization (WTO) accord reached in December 2013 in Bali. Under the TFA, all the WTO’s 160 members agreed to work toward reducing the red tape and corruption at ports of entry, so that goods can move more quickly and economically from country to country. Second, there is the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), between the United States and the 28 nations of the European Union. Together, the U.S. and EU account for 60 percent of the world’s GDP.

What do trade agreements have to do with reducing corruption? Historically, not much. But these two agreements break new ground both in their scope and their potential for attacking corruption as a barrier to trade. This fact is often lost in media coverage that focuses on winners and losers within specific countries and economic sectors. Adding to the lack of attention paid to corruption issues is the fact that negotiations are complex, not always transparent and can take years to conclude.

To zero in on the role of corruption in disrupting free trade, American University’s Washington College of Law recently put together a panel of experts and advocates, headlined by former World Trade Organization Director General Pascal Lamy. The moderator of the “Addressing Corruption in Global Trade” session, Nancy Boswell, framed the issue concisely. Read more…

At a Glance: A New Survey of Chief Compliance Officers

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By Junior Kayembe N’Kashama

Building a robust ethics and compliance program is key to managing risk in today’s complex world of global business. That is why understanding best practices and the state of compliance infrastructure among companies is an important step toward better compliance across the board.

Society of Corporate Compliance and Ethics (SCCE) and NYSE Governance Services recently surveyed a variety of organizations — ranging in size from 100 employees to more than 100,000 — in various industries such as healthcare, manufacturing, utilities, finance and insurance, and educational services. The respondents were Chief Compliance Officers or the person responsible for the day-to-day operation of the ethics and compliance program.

Findings are presented in the 2014 Compliance and Ethics Program Environment Survey Report.

Here are some highlights: Read more…

Can Boards Help Fight “Compliance Fatigue” In Emerging Market Firms?

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In the first half of 2014, anti-corruption enforcement actions by the U.S. alone cost the business community more than $500 million. It would seem logical that as a result anti-corruption compliance would be at the forefront of every multinational corporation’s activities. But that’s not the case, at least as described in the 2014 Global Fraud Survey, perhaps one of the largest and most credible surveys on the topic, released by Ernst and Young (EY) earlier this summer.

The report indicates that businesses around the world are suffering from what EY has dubbed “compliance fatigue.” After surveying more than 2,700 business executives in 59 countries, EY discovered that “despite the aggressive enforcement environment…the percentage of companies that have anti-bribery/anti-corruption (ABAC) policies has increased by only 1%.”

According to the survey, the reason for such stagnation rests with chief executives who are reluctant to participate in compliance training programs and take other necessary steps. EY does note that “the majority of businesses have put in place many of the building blocks of effective compliance programs.” However, “one-fifth of respondents say that either their business does not have an ABAC policy or that they do not know if there is a policy” representing a “persistent minority” of firms that have yet to adopt any measures to prevent bribery.  Within this minority, the report shows that executives are not only apathetic towards compliance, but “are willing to act unethically to win or retain business.”

Because executive officers face greater exposure to corruption risks, EY posits that the best course of action to alleviate this compliance fatigue is for boards of directors to maintain a high level of pressure on C-suite executives to ensure they are taking the necessary precautions. The survey authors state, “This level of scrutiny will drive a higher level of engagement among senior executives.” This solution, however, hinges on the idea that board members have sufficient knowledge and understanding to provide such oversight. Unfortunately, CIPE’s work in emerging markets around the world have shown that this is not always the case. Read more…

Anti-Corruption Compliance in Kenya

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Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index ranks Kenya in a distant 136th place. That low ranking confirms the sentiment often encountered in Nairobi: corruption is widespread in many aspects of life, from bribing a policeman to avoid charges for alleged traffic violations to graft at the highest levels of government, as poignantly described by a British journalist Michela Wrong in her book about Kenyan whistleblower John Githongo, It’s Our Turn to Eat.

Not surprisingly, many segments of the Kenyan society are fed up with the status quo and ready for change. That includes many companies in the private sector that see their growth potential and competitiveness stifled by the highly corrupt environment. Such companies are not waiting for the government to clean up its act and instead are taking the initiative to limit corruption through setting up or strengthening internal compliance procedures.

Long-time CIPE partner Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM), KPMG, and the British High Commission recently published four case studies of companies that are committed to integrity and have made significant progress in translating that commitment into daily operations.  Read More...

A Guide for Anti-Corruption Compliance: The New Imperative in Global Value Chains

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This post originally appeared on Corporate Compliance Trends.

In many countries, fighting corruption seems to be an impossible battle, especially for mid-sized companies with limited resources. While there is a broad global consensus that corruption suppresses competition and innovation, thus hampering entrepreneurship and economic growth opportunities, countering it presents a challenging task due to resistance to reform in corruption-tainted business environments. In many cases anti-corruption rules and regulations may be weak or unevenly enforced, government-led steps to fight corruption remain insufficient or ineffective, and bribes are a widely accepted part of doing business.

Yet businesses committed to anti-corruption are not helpless. They can lead by example by improving their own safeguards against corruption and act together to create a movement for integrity that makes clean business conduct the norm, not the exception.

In today’s globalized world, where international value chains stretch across borders and continents, anti-corruption compliance provides a vital competitive advantage.  Read More...