BY Fraser Tennant
Bribery and corruption is a huge problem in Europe, the Middle East, India and Africa (EMEIA), with unethical behaviour and high levels of mistrust among colleagues typical of today's workforce at larger companies, reveals a new EY fraud survey.
According to ‘Human instinct or machine logic: Which do you trust most in the fight against fraud and corruption?’, an average of 51 percent of those surveyed (4100 senior company executives spanning 41 countries) said they assume that business transactions in their country involve bribery and corruption.
Among the report’s other key findings: (i) 25 to 34 year-olds are more corrupt than other age groups and assume that management is also corrupt; (iii) whistleblowing is not being effectively implemented, with employees often not knowing to whom they can report a suspicious person; and (iii) efforts by regulatory authorities are hitting home, with three-quarters of survey respondents supporting individual responsibility for managers.
The EY fraud survey comes at a time when significant and sometimes unexpected political change is spreading economic uncertainty, presenting businesses with new challenges and opportunities in an increasingly disrupted world. At the same time, the challenges facing businesses continue to mount – such as the pace of technological change, shifts in consumer demands, the changing makeup of the workforce and the constant pressure of growth.
Given these significant political and economic changes, business conduct is now under scrutiny like never before. Businesses must find alternative ways to meet ambitious revenue goals and be responsive to the significant public demand for businesses to be held to account through greater transparency and accountability where traditional compliance frameworks may no longer be valid.
"The diesel dupe, the Libor scandal, illegal price fixing and intentionally falsely declared meat; compliance violations are constantly hitting the headlines,” said Michael Faske, head of fraud investigation & dispute services at EY. “The results of our survey show that unethical behaviour and a high level of mistrust among colleagues are typical of today's workforce at large companies. This applies in particular to managers and the youngest generation.
“The requirements of the regulatory authorities have continued to grow and even the companies themselves have introduced strict compliance regulations. In the perception within and outside of the company, these rules do not change anything however, if they are evaded by individual employees or even by the management committee."
Although the survey does highlight progress and improvement in some emerging economies , overall the fight against bribery and corruption remains a major challenge across the EMEIA region.