KPMG released its latest global anti-bribery and corruption survey earlier in September.

The report, titled Anti-Bribery and Corruption: Rising to the challenge in the age of globalization, analyses some of the key risks companies face when dealing with bribery and corruption. The survey was completed in October 2014.

The auditing company polled 659 respondents around the world, gathering insights into the challenges they face in complying with the increasing – and necessary – trend of anti-bribery and corruption (ABC) regulation, as well the pressures of looking the other way when a third party acts as intermediary for the bribe.

The respondents were located in 64 countries, and worked in companies of varying size. There were 140 respondents from Central and Eastern Europe and 113 in Western Europe (excluding the UK), 105 from the Asia-Pacific region, 66 in the US, 64 from South America, 61 from South Africa, and 41 from the UK. A variety of industries was selected: banking comprised 20%, life sciences 12%, manufacturing 10%, and energy and natural resources 8%.

In terms of respondent roles, 22% indicated that they work in compliance, 21% are in executive management and 20% are in the auditing division, with legal, financial compliance, line management, human resources, board, and other functions making up the rest.

The report found that, for the most part, companies are taking the initiative to many levels to curb corruption, no matter what the scale of their business in a given country or region. Even lonely outposts in remote regions are not neglected.

However, the report also showed that a great deal more needs to be done to create a sturdy ABC compliance structure. Companies are beginning to rise to the challenge, but in many cases the action taken is inconsistent or does not probe deeply enough.

Regardless of tougher enforcement of regulations to combat bribery and corruption, the report noted, illicit payments to counter-parties continue to burden economies, diverting resources from people and places where they could do most good.

Download the report here:
KPMG ABC survey 2015

The local situation

South Africa is a signatory to the OECD’s anti-bribery convention and is obliged to establish legally binding standards to criminalise the bribery of public officials.

This is slowly gathering momentum – 75% of local respondents said that their company had a formal, written ABC compliance programme, compared to the global average response of 80%.

Almost three-quarters of local respondents said their company’s ABC risk assessment policy assesses the potential risk posed by third party intermediaries or associated persons, compared to the global average of 69%.  In terms of the frequency of conducting the risk assessment, 76% of South African companies did this at least once a year, and 77% around the world followed suit.

Furthermore, 26% of respondents said that their company conducted ABC-specific data analytics to identify potential violations, while 52% did not and 21% did not know. In the global picture, 25% conducted data analytics, while 49% did not and 26% did not know.

When it comes to mergers and acquisitions, 56% of South African companies include ABC considerations as part of their pre-acquisition due diligence, compared to 45% of global companies.

Interestingly, when asked which regions pose the most perceived problems, South African respondents answered sub-Saharan Africa, followed by Middle East/North Africa and then China, while the majority of global respondents pointed to China, followed by Middle East/North Africa and then sub-Saharan Africa.

Some key points highlighted in the report:

  • Only 29% of respondents said their companies have right-to-audit clauses over third parties and 41% of those with such clauses exercised these rights.
  • Auditing third parties for ABC compliance ranked as the most challenging ABC issue faced by respondents.
  • Eight in 10 respondents said their companies have a formal, written ABC compliance programme, but only 58% said these programmes include continuous monitoring and internal audit protocols.
  • Only 25% of respondents use data analytics to identify potential bribery and corruption violations and less than half of them continuously monitor the data.
  • Sixty percent of respondents indicated that mergers and acquisitions are part of their growth strategy; however, only 45% said their companies include ABC considerations in pre-acquisition due diligence.
  • There is a sharp increase in the proportion of respondents who say they are highly challenged by the issue of ABC compared with a survey KPMG conducted four years earlier.
  • As companies continue to globalise, management of third parties poses the greatest challenge in executing ABC programmes.
  • Despite the difficulty of monitoring their business dealings with third parties, more than one third of the respondents do not formally identify high-risk third parties.
  • ABC considerations are accorded too low a priority by companies preparing to acquire, or merge with, other corporations across borders.
  • Respondents complain they lack the resources to manage ABC risk.
  • A top-down risk assessment would help companies set priorities, but executives admit that an ABC risk assessment is one of their companies’ top challenges.
  • Data analytics is an increasingly important and cost-effective tool to assess ABC controls. Yet only a quarter of respondents use data analysis to identify violations and, of those that do so, less than half continuously monitor data to spot potential violations.