Investor or Shareholder Activist?

Significant Investors in public companies should demand that the Board obtain an independent audit of the anti-bribery programme and gain a certification.

If you have invested in a large global company that does business around the World, the chances of a bribery allegation being raised increase dramatically.  If the business is large, multi-national, trades with Governments, uses distributors as sales agents, and works in challenging countries, then the likelihood of issues is almost guaranteed. It's not a question of 'if', it is a question of 'when'.

The costs of managing a bribery investigation often exceed USD100m in legal fees and investigation costs. It is not unusual to see these costs even higher if multiple countries are involved. This is before there are rehabilitation costs to the business, increased compliance initiatives and the potential of fines and charges from authorities that often can be as high as USD1B.  Of course, throughout this period, the share price is being battered, the reputation of the company is in need of significant repair and your investment value is falling.

Wouldn't it give you much more comfort to have an independent auditor come in and assess that programme and have it certified under a recognized ISO Standard?  Investors are strongly advised to require that the companies in which they fund engage a certification body with experience in anti-corruption matters to audit the anti-bribery programme (and give a certification if appropriate).  That will give you piece of mind that there is a robust anti-bribery management system in place and that the team that manages the programme is doing so according to a recognized Standard (not just some vague 'best practices').

You demand that the company get its accounts independently audited every year, what about the compliance programme for something as important to anti-bribery?  Think of it as insurance.  You spend a little amount of money now to build a programme that by its nature will decrease the likelihood of events happening - in return for a significant reduction in risk and costs and devaluation of your asset when the inevitable crisis happens.