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Towards Better Anti-Bribery And Compliance Programmes

Corporates need to set up a comprehensive Anti-Bribery and Corruption (ABC) compliance programme and keep it updated to ensure that ethical business practices are followed.

Photo Credit : Representational Image / PTI


Bribery and corruption remain a significant fraud risk for businesses across the world. Deloitte’s India Corporate Fraud Perception Survey, Edition IV, indicates a heightened risk of bribery and corruption in the next few years. The high risk will be spurred by the challenges posed by the pandemic on business models and supply chains. 

Regulators across the world have been cognisant of the rising bribery and corruption risk. They continue to introduce legislation, improve enforcement action, and provide guidance to companies on improving their fraud preparedness.

The table below provides a list of key anti-bribery and corruption-related regulatory developments in the past few years:

Global developments

India developments

  • 2017: The US Department of Justice (DoJ) issued a guidance for white-collar prosecutors on the evaluation of corporate compliance programmes within the context of a criminal investigation. The guidance was updated in April 2019 and later revised in June 2020.
  • 2018: Bribery is a crime in all 44 counties that are signatories to the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention.[1] Further, the UN Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) signatories (140, as on 06 February 2020) are required to criminalise foreign bribery and cooperate with other countries during investigations.[2]
  • In 2019, companies with operations in the US paid/or agreed to pay settlements collectively amounting to more than US$ 1 billion to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the US DoJ for their involvement in corruption cases[3] in other countries, such as Russia, India, China, Mexico, and Brazil.

  • Prevention of Corruption (Amendment) Act 2018, was introduced as a law in July 2018.
  • Legislative changes made to the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) in 2018 included ‘fraud’ under the Companies Act, 2013 as one of the identified crimes that will attract the application of the PMLA[4]. 

  • The Indian government appointed its first Lokpal (an anti-corruption ombudsman) in March 2019. 
  • Black Money (Undisclosed Foreign Income and Assets) and Imposition of Tax Act, 2015, has been introduced to curb black money, or undisclosed foreign assets and income and imposes tax and penalty on such income. It reinforces the commitment towards tackling black money (generated through illegal activities, terrorism, drug trade, corruption, etc., or unaccounted or undisclosed permissible economic activities) parked overseas.

What can corporates do to safeguard themselves?

Corporates need to set up a comprehensive Anti-Bribery and Corruption (ABC) compliance programme and keep it updated to ensure that ethical business practices are followed.

The absence of such a programme can result in the violation of local or global anti-corruption legislation (whichever is applicable). The presence of a robust compliance programme can also be a key factor that regulators consider at the time of scrutinising allegations of corrupt activities (may result in less severe penalties, upon ascertaining of corruption). 

The current environment has made it challenging for companies to continue with static ABC compliance programmes. In line with the current challenges, the following considerations may help strengthen existing ABC compliance programmes.

  1. Undertake a detailed corruption risk assessment to check vulnerabilities in areas such as procurement, logistics, payroll, and charitable contributions. This is also a requirement prescribed by the DoJ in its evaluation of corporate compliance programmes.
  2. Review transparency and accountability of decision-making processes and embed appropriate mechanisms to enable relevant stakeholders to meet compliance and business obligations. 
  3. Undertake historic and real-time monitoring of business transactions using data analytics to identify anomalies and conduct detailed due diligence on counterparties. Further, maintaining a repository of red flags noted during third-party due diligence and noting how these red flags were resolved, can be helpful in subsequent reviews.
  4. Ensure that escalation mechanisms, such as a whistleblower hotline, are in place and functional. Additionally, trained resources could be enabled to respond appropriately to suspicions or allegations of any unethical activity reported via these mechanisms, to avoid a delay in addressing such concerns.
  5. Review key policies, such as anti-corruption policy, third-party due diligence policy, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) policy, and relevant procedures to provide appropriate guidance to enable compliance during a crisis. Further, ensuring that the policies address the risks observed at a ground level (across each jurisdiction of operation) and are not a one-size-fits-all templatised model, is important.

Organisations also need to ensure that employees are aware of the policies and procedures through periodic training and certifications. These could include risk-based training programmes covering specific risks for different departments in an organisation. Further, regular communication about an organisation’s position on addressing bribery and corruption and other misconduct, including sharing of potential scenarios observed in the company/industry (wherever deemed fit), can be considered. Lastly, the senior management’s ability to demonstrate commitment to anti-bribery and corruption issues and complete oversight of ABC compliance programmes can ensure that these programmes remain effective.





Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.

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bribery corruption compliance deloitte india Sumit Makhija

Sumit Makhija

The Author is the Partner, Forensic – Financial Advisory, Deloitte India

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