Australian companies are lagging behind global anti-bribery standards, thus placing themselves at risk, according to a new report.
Baker & McKenzie launched the report, Bribery: Do Australian Companies Take it Seriously?, at New South Wales Parliament yesterday (23 November), just a week after Minister for Home Affairs Brendan O'Connor said he was seeking public comment on a proposal to change Australia's anti-foreign bribery laws.
The report is based on the views of C-Suite and senior executives from 81 Australian organisations across various industries surveyed by Beaton Consulting.
It explores how companies are navigating the increasing risks associated with bribery and corruption, particularly when operating overseas.
Baker & McKenzie's head of dispute resolution Asia Pacific, Mini vandePol, said that while O'Connor has indicated that Australia has a strong framework in place to combat corruption, Transparency International has criticised Australia's enforcement record.
"In addition, only 36 per cent of our survey respondents believed that Australia has adequate enforcement," she said.
"It's not just about risk, it's about reward. Tighter regulation levels the playing field and encourages companies to operate appropriately and ethically wherever they do business."
Respondents to the survey said the most common motives to implement anti-bribery measures include a desire to be an ethical company and enhance the company's reputation.
According to vandePol, this result shows that companies appreciate that the rewards of good compliance go further than risk mitigation, but also suggests that companies are approaching these measures as optional extras, rather than an essential part of their compliance framework.
"Global trends illustrate that companies using third parties or intermediaries in business dealings could be highly vulnerable to the risks of bribery and corruption. Our survey revealed that 13 per cent of respondents do no monitoring of intermediaries in high risk jurisdictions such as China and India, and this rises to 23 per cent in the energy and resources sector," said vandePol.
Mark Speakman SC MP, who chairs the Committee on the Independent Commission Against Corruption, also helped launch the report.
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