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Monday, 23 March 2020 01:30

COVID-19 brings bribery, corruption spike, warns professional sevices firm Featured

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Australia and New Zealand face a potential spike in bribery and corruption across the Asia Pacific region in the wake of COVID-19, according to a new report by one global professional services firm.

The warning comes from Deloitte Australia forensic director Oliver May who says that the “unique and intense commercial pressures from the Coronavirus outbreak” have increased the bribery and corruption threat for companies, their workforces and executives.

“As markets reel from the impact of COVID-19, uncertainty and anxiety may well trigger an increase in risky behaviour,” May said.

“As the threat to livelihoods accelerates, so do the vulnerabilities to dishonesty. Fraudsters, cybercriminals, organised crime groups and corrupt individuals will test your organisation’s commitment to integrity. Employers need to support their people, organisations and the wider community by making sure they have anti-bribery policies and programs in place.

“Our report identifies the current areas of vulnerability across the region and offers approaches as to how best to mitigate them.”

Deloitte’s survey of 159 corporate, government and not-for-profit leaders across Australia and New Zealand presents seven key insights, with what the professional services fiirm says are some stark findings, including:

  • One in 20 Australasian organisations have unclear approaches to bribery which do not specify ‘no tolerance’
  • Australasian organisations worry more about their people receiving, than paying bribes
  • Some significant growth in conflicts of interest over the past five years.

Chris Noble, Managing Partner Deloitte Forensic Asia Pacific said: “Across Australasia and the Asia Pacific region, I encourage business leaders to recognise this time as one where your ethics will be well and truly tested”.

“Clear, confident, unequivocal communication is so important to ensure the sustainability of your business and protect its reputation. The decisions leaders make now will affect their organisations long after the crisis has passed. We must make the right ones, and I encourage you to consider how the insights in our report can be used to protect your people and your business.

“The reality is that the 2020 Deloitte Australia and New Zealand bribery and corruption survey leaves no doubt that Australia’s reputation has slipped over the last two years.”

Deloitte says corruption captures a range of forms of dishonesty, including conflicts of interest and nepotism. The Deloitte Report lists some actions to consider.

Most respondents to the Deloitte survey were from Australia and New Zealand, with many of their organisations operating supply chains and markets across the Asia Pacific region. 

“Given that corruption risk can manifest in different forms across this remarkably diverse region, Australasian companies need to understand those environments and the multitude of different standards that pertain in each jurisdiction,” May said.


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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham - retired and is a "volunteer" writer for iTWire. He is a veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).

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