48% of Middle East and North Africa firms have no anti-corruption policy

Out-Law News | 22 Jun 2015 | 4:56 pm | 1 min. read

Almost half of large businesses in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) lack an anti-bribery or anti-corruption policy and code of practice, according to an Ernst & Young survey on fraud across Europe, Middle East, India and Africa (EMEIA).

Fewer than half of respondents in MENA believe senior management has communicated a strong commitment to anti-bribery and anti-corruption policies, or outlined clear penalties for breaking defined policies, Ernst & Young said.

The survey found that 50% of MENA respondents justified financial statement misstatement if it helped their business to survive, and 67% felt that offering personal gifts, entertainment or cash were justified for the same reason.

Michael Adlem, MENA leader of Ernst & Young’s fraud investigation and dispute services (FIDS) practice, said: "The risks of fraud, bribery and corruption are not going away. Businesses remain under intense pressure to grow and that growth can be achieved while appropriately managing the risks of fraud and corruption. Effective compliance is not a barrier to growth; it is a requirement for sustained success."

"Changing the culture of compliance can take time, especially if companies have become accustomed to operating in the grey areas of business. Increased regulation and scrutiny will help to speed up this focus but there is still pressure to keep improving," Adlem said.

"There is an urgent need at the board level to make compliance more of a focus," said Stuart Jones, director of Ernst & Young FIDS.

"The survey points out that MENA businesses are still not protecting themselves enough and generally there is a long way to go in making compliance an integral part of operations. This shouldn’t be the case. To grow in a high-risk market, the right controls and processes need to be in place, independently tested and teams should be trained to make the correct choice," Jones said.