Last checked on:
23 November 2023
Published on:
12 August 2019

Abusing a position of power for private or business-related gain is called corruption. Corruption still happens in international businesses. What are the risks? What are the consequences of corruptive actions? How can you avoid corruption?

Are you at risk?

The possible risk that your company will encounter corruption depends on several matters:

  • the country where you do business;
  • the sector in which you operate;
  • if you depend on public organisations to get permits and licences;
  • if you rely on government contracts for selling your product or service;
  • if you use local agents, intermediaries or consultants for your international activities.

Corruption ranking

You can consult corruption rankings to determine whether your business is exposed to the risk of corruption. The annual Corruption Perceptions Index by NGO Transparency International is an excellent place to start. Risk Advisory has published the Corruption Challenges Index 2020.

OECD Guidelines

If you want to apply for subsidies and funding from the Dutch government, you must follow the OECD Guidelines. The OECD Anti-Corruption Guidelines are mandatory. Read more about OECD guidelines on our OECD Guidelines page.

International laws and regulations

There is an increasing number of international laws and regulations on corruption. Below you will find several important ones:

If you are doing business in countries that do not actively prosecute individuals for acts of corruption, you may also be faced with the extraterritorial operation of strict legislation such as:

More information

For more information, please read The Business Integrity Compendium published by the International Chamber of Commerce. It gives guidelines on how to deal with integrity and corruption.

Tips on how to avoid corruption

Tips for doing business without corruption:

Be transparent

  • Communicate publicly that you disapprove of corruption.
  • Be transparent about how you combat bribery and extortion.
  • Do not offer, promise or demand bribes or other unlawful advantages.
  • Do not create the impression that you are doing something for illegal benefits.
  • Do not grant questionable donations to candidates in public positions, political parties or political organisations.

Be well-prepared

  • You should be well-prepared when you conduct business internationally. It is wise to carry out an assessment of the situation and the risks.
  • Ensure that you are properly informed about the local culture to avoid any misunderstandings.
  • Thoroughly prepare customs clearance formalities for inbound and outbound goods to avoid any confusion or uncertainties.
  • Select intermediaries with great care.

Organise your internal organisation

  • Your managers serve as role models. Make sure that your management knows what inappropriate conduct is.
  • Make sure decisions involve multiple people to prevent individuals from becoming targets of unethical practices.
  • Draw up a code of conduct and whistleblowers' regulations.
  • Raise awareness of this code of conduct among your staff.
  • Implement a system for anti-bribery and anti-extortion management. Incorporating control mechanisms in your accounting system will prevent payments, secret accounts and false documents from being kept 'off the books'.

Work with the right organisations

Cooperate with embassies and other businesses. Embassies can often assist you in your efforts to prevent and combat bribery. They can also inform and advise you on business sensitivities in specific countries and sectors.

Commissioned by:
  • Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Is this page useful?