Nearly Two-thirds of Global Companies Have Faced Corruption, PricewaterhouseCoopers Report Finds

The Majority of Surveyed Companies Lack Confidence in Their Anti-Corruption Programs; PwC Report Provides Guidance for Effective Risk Mitigation

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| Source: PricewaterhouseCoopers

NEW YORK, Feb. 18, 2008 (PRIME NEWSWIRE) -- Nearly two-thirds of senior executives around the world say they have experienced some form of actual or attempted corruption in their business dealings, according to a report by PricewaterhouseCoopers. The report, 'Confronting Corruption: The business case for an effective anti-corruption programme,' finds that almost 80 percent of executives say they have anti-corruption programs in place at their company, but only 22 percent are confident the programs are effective. Executives say they feel vulnerable to corruption particularly when doing business in expanding markets such as China, India, Russia and South America.

PricewaterhouseCoopers commissioned the Economist Intelligence Unit to conduct a global survey and in-depth interviews with senior executives and anti-corruption specialists. Survey respondents, comprised of 390 senior executives from 70 countries, indicate significant operational impacts of corruption:


 o    Sixty-three percent said they had experienced some form of actual
      or attempted corruption;

 o    Forty-five percent said they had not entered a specific market or
      pursued a particular opportunity because of corruption risks;

 o    Thirty-nine percent said their companies had lost bids because of
      corrupt officials;

 o    Forty-two percent said their competitors paid bribes.

"Companies now have a compelling -- and some might say, urgent -- business case to support the development and implementation of a formal and strategic anti-corruption program," said David Jansen, partner, PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP. "In recent years, companies caught breaking anti-corruption laws have individually paid hundreds of millions of dollars in fines and several CEOs have stepped down in disgrace."

Jansen continued, "This situation is not limited to U.S. based companies. Globally, we are seeing a marked rise in enforcement actions that should cause C-Suite officers to ensure they have adequate programs in place to mitigate this risk."

"As serious as the monetary damages may be, the damage to a company's reputation can truly be crippling. When asked about the fallout from corruption allegations, 55 percent of respondents to our survey say the most severe impact would be to their corporate reputation," said Jansen. "This is a greater percentage than the combined total of those who say legal, financial and regulatory impacts would be the most severe. As management and staff become distracted and demoralized, customers and business partners distance themselves from the company and even internal safeguards against such things as theft and financial statement manipulation eventually become suspect."

"Without a strategic action plan in place, a company may not even be aware of its vulnerability until it is too late," Jansen concluded.

PwC analyzed survey results and produced a report that points out the need for communications around an anti-corruption program, ensuring that employees know about the program and understand that there will be sanctions if they transgress.

More than 70 percent of the executives surveyed said that a better understanding of corruption will help them compete more effectively, make better decisions and improve corporate social responsibility as they enter new business environments. Despite the skepticism and perceived levels of heightened risk in these environments, a number of companies have shown that proactively addressing corruption risks can help balance risk and return. While the growth opportunities in new markets are compelling, the study suggests companies tailor their program controls and oversight to meet the requirements of each individual market.

While companies are generally responding to the risk of corruption, the survey indicates that many companies' underlying policies and controls do little to identify and mitigate risk due to poor design or implementation:


 o    Slightly less than half say their program is clearly communicated
      and enforced;

 o    Rigorous risk assessment, a crucial step in program design, is
      overlooked by more than half of those surveyed, and only 25
      percent perform proactive risk assessments or monitoring;

 o    Only 40 percent of respondents believe their current controls are
      effective at identifying high-risk business partners or suspect
      disbursements.

It is not, however, all bad news; drawing from interviews with experts and real life case studies from global companies, the report provides practical guidance for operating in challenging environments. Leveraging efforts by leading non-governmental organizations focused on the issue, the report also includes a model for an effective anti-corruption program that can be tailored to any environment.

The World Economic Forum Partnering Against Corruption Initiative (PACI) (www.weforum.org/paci) welcomes the PwC report and the business case for effective anti-corruption programs established in the report. The initiative brings together companies from multiple industries and global locations to fight bribery and corruption. Launched by CEOs from leading global corporations at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2004 in Davos, PACI helps to consolidate industry efforts on the issue and to shape the evolving regulatory framework. By becoming a PACI signatory, a company commits to a zero-tolerance policy toward bribery and corruption and agrees to put in place an internal anti-corruption program that reflects the PACI Principles. Today, there are some 140 signatory companies, representing a global annual turnover of over USD 700 billion, including PricewaterhouseCoopers and other industry leaders from multiple sectors

"Efforts such as the World Economic Forum Partnering Against Corruption Initiative and Transparency International provide information, news, research, resources and tools to help global organizations in their efforts to combat corruption and engage in ethical business practices," said PricewaterhouseCoopers' Jansen.

'Confronting corruption: The business case for an effective anti-corruption programme' is available free of charge at www.pwc.com/anti-corruption.

Note to the Editors

'Confronting corruption: The business case for an effective anti-corruption programme' is a PricewaterhouseCoopers report that examines what companies are currently doing to manage the risk of corruption and what steps they should take to better protect themselves in the future. It is based on a global online survey, conducted in November 2007 by the Economist Intelligence Unit, of 390 senior executives (of whom more than half were board-level or C-suite executives) from 70 countries. To supplement the quantitative findings, in-depth interviews were conducted with 36 senior executives and anti-corruption specialists from 14 countries.

About the Economist Intelligence Unit

The Economist Intelligence Unit is the business information arm of The Economist Group, publisher of The Economist. Through our global network of more than 650 analysts and contributors, we continuously assess and forecast political, economic and business conditions in 200 countries. As the world's leading provider of country intelligence, we help executives make better business decisions by providing timely, reliable and impartial analysis on worldwide market trends and business strategies.

About PricewaterhouseCoopers

PricewaterhouseCoopers (www.pwc.com) provides industry-focused assurance, tax and advisory services to build public trust and enhance value for its clients and their stakeholders. More than 146,000 people in 150 countries across our network share their thinking, experience and solutions to develop fresh perspectives and practical advice.

"PricewaterhouseCoopers" refers to the network of member firms of PricewaterhouseCoopers International Limited, each of which is a separate and independent legal entity.

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