Bribery is a persistent problem for international business. The OECD has drawn up guidelines on corruption.
OECD countries endeavour to fight corruption to the greatest possible extent. For this reason, they have adopted guidelines that emphasise transparency. Business operators that follow these guidelines contribute to a better international investment climate. The OECD has also developed a corruption prevention guide for companies: Good Practice Guidance on Internal Controls, Ethics, and Compliance.
Corruption: an easy line to cross
Corruption is a major problem for many Dutch companies abroad. They have to compete and operate in complex foreign markets. Non-transparent processes sometimes make it seem impossible to comply with all the rules. The temptation is then to turn to influential persons in order to obtain signatures or to help the process along. Perhaps you know that your competitors have already crossed this line and are obtaining privileges. It is therefore very important that you are aware of the risk of bribery and the consequences that your actions can have.
Examples of bribery
A business wishing to conduct operations abroad may be faced with practices involving bribery. These may include:
- a competitor who snatches a foreign government contract from right under your nose by slipping money into the hand of a government official.
- a foreign tax official who offers an incorrect but favourable rate, providing he also enjoys some benefit.
- a local agent who promises to "take care" of a safety certificate without the required testing of the new product.
For further information:
- The OECD has developed a corruption prevention guide for companies: Combating Bribery, Bribe Solicitation and Extortion (in Dutch).
The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) Netherlands has created several tools to make it easy for businesses to keep corruption at bay. These include the RESIST tool to promote internal awareness, a checklist for business practices, an anti-corruption clause, and the ICC Guidelines on Gifts and Hospitality (these PDFs can be downloaded below). You can also order the Ethics and Compliance Training Handbook from ICC.
- Resisting extortion and solicitation in international transactions. The RESIST tool is a practical instrument intended to help companies raise awareness among employees about the dangers of extortion and to teach them how to handle requests from customers, business partners or a government agency. The tool kit consists of 22 scenarios.
- ICC Rules on Combating Corruption. The ICC Rules on Combating Corruption are rules that can be used by companies as a checklist to determine the extent to which anti-corruption is one of its operational elements.
- ICC anti-corruption clause e-book. De ICC anti-corruption clause is a provision that businesses can include in agreements. Parties agree to comply with the ICC Rules on Combating Corruption or to establish and maintain a similar anti-corruption compliance programme.
- ICC guidelines on gifts and hospitality. Practical guidelines issued by ICC to provide a framework for small and large companies and organisations when drafting rules that govern the offering and acceptance of gifts in order to prevent any involvement in corruption / bribery.