SGS Introduce the Benefits of External Verification for Bribery Prevention

Since the adoption of the OECD Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Official’s in 1999, corruption prevention has become a key topic of concern for businesses of all size and scale worldwide.
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April 29, 2014 - PRLog -- The convention invoked a change in approach whereby responsibility was refocused onto those paying bribes rather than attempting to tackle recipients, regardless of local legal frameworks. Companies have therefore responded and developed anti-bribery programs to control their risk, prevent misconduct and to comply with the direction of, both, domestic and extra-territorial regulation and legislation (in particular, FCPA and UK Bribery Act).

But how can a business be sure that a program is properly designed and in line with international best practices? How can a business guarantee that a program is known and respected by employees and business partners? Would external verification assist in this perspective?

Benchmark Your Business‘s Anti-Bribery Program against International Best Practices

External verification evaluates whether a program is consistent with existing global best practices. Numerous guidance documents have been issued over the past years to assist companies in the establishment of proper bribery prevention - the OECD Good Practice Guidance on Internal Controls, Ethics, and Compliance, the revision of the International Chamber of Commerce Rules on Combating Corruption and the UK Bribery Act Guidance. Hopefully those recommendations converge with and complement the various preexisting recommendations in place. Some fundamental principles are clearly recognized by all stakeholders as essential to all bribery prevention programs:

- A clear “Tone from the Top”;

- A regular and documented bribery risk assessment;

- A set of policies defining rules on what is acceptable with particular attention to gifts and hospitality, charitable and political contributions, sponsorship, facilitation payments – and any other specific risks;

- An internal organization (in terms of management responsibility, approval processes and budget);

- Proper management of business partners - especially sales business partners;

- Regular communication and training about the risks, legal constraints and policies of the organization;

- Proper internal controls, especially regarding finance, procurement and other commercial controls;

- An alert system enabling employees to raise concerns or cases of bribery.

External verification evaluates whether all such issues are covered by a company’s program and that the procedures are adapted to the risks identified.

Anti-Bribery Legislation and Legal Constraints

Another reason for a company to undergo an external verification is to obtain tangible evidence of their best efforts to prevent corruption.

Bribery is a hazard to, and fraud against businesses and as such businesses will never be able to guarantee that bribery has not or will not occur. Consequently, the key defense is to provide evidence that they have implemented proper procedures to limit such fraud and corruption – similar to the approach seen in common practice for health and safety programs. Companies are required to demonstrate that they don’t just have a “paper program”. Moreover they must show that each program is implemented, reviewed and revised in an effective manner.

Analysis of FCPA enforcement action demonstrates that the implementation of a suitable and appropriate program reduces potential penalties in cases of such frauds occurring. The UK Bribery Act also stresses that ‘adequate procedures’ may constitute a ‘full defense’.

Advanced Anti-Bribery and Corruption Prevention

The external verification of an anti-bribery program can be progressed and developed, by applying for certification. Certification demonstrates that an anticorruption program has attained a specific level of development and capability. Such certifications provide the opportunity to tangibly communicate about a business’ commitment toward corruption free business practices.

Certification is also important internally to emphasize the authority given to the anti-bribery program and to involve all employees in a full anti-bribery management system.

For example companies may be certified against the ETHIC Intelligence Certification scheme or the BS 10500:2011 British Standard.

SGS Anti-Corruption and Bribery Services ( can perform corruption prevention audits and remains at your disposal for any query on this issue.

Contact details:

SGS Consumer Testing Services

Céleste Cornu
Anti-Corruption Services
Global Manager - CTS
SGS France

t: +33 4 42 97 78 51

SGS is the world’s leading inspection, verification, testing and certification company. SGS is recognized as the global benchmark for quality and integrity. With more than 80,000 employees, SGS operates a network of over 1,650 offices and laboratories around the world.

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