corruption is not just a ‘third world problem’

09-12-2015

It’s alive and well in the UK too…

Whether we like it or not corruption is not the sole remit of developing countries. Yes, it does have a huge impact on these nations, but it also leaves its mark on the UK too. No one country is truly immune to corruption and bribery, but different circumstances means that it will manifest itself in different ways.

This week, as part of the UN’s International Anti-Corruption Day (Wednesday 9 December 2015), the CIPFA Counter Fraud Centre will join governments, the private sector, non-governmental organisations, the media and individuals around the world to help raise awareness on how fraud and corruption undermines democracy and the rule of law. 

Within the UK corruption and fraud are often used to provide financial support to organised crime, terrorism and other threats to security. As recently highlighted by the CCAB, “Money laundering and terrorist financing deprive economies of capital and governments of revenue, distort fair competition in business transactions, betray the trust of stakeholders and, as the recent events across Europe demonstrate, can also lead to tragic human losses.”

One of the purposes of the International Anti-Corruption Day is to encourage and facilitate open dialogue and debate on the threats of bribery and corruption, enabling individuals, businesses and the public sector alike to express their views on how they can be better supported to manage corruption risks, what defences do they need to have in place, and how to build a robust counter-fraud culture.

Having a system in place to spot the signs of corruption is an important first step in establishing a defence. At the Counter Fraud Centre we recommend that organisations should in fact adopt a robust system of checks and balances, and we work with many public sector organisations to help them achieve this through evaluation and benchmarking, and guided implementation of best practice. Transparency in accountancy, reporting and financial management is also paramount and every public service organisation, under the UK Anti-Corruption Plan, needs to ensure that they have the right knowledge, skills, systems and policies in place.  Incorporating these measures will create the backbone to a strong anti-corruption defence and culture within public sector organisations.

The first UK Anti-Corruption Plan was published by government in December 2014. It sets out the UK’s current anti-corruption activities, the actions that government will take to tackle corruption, and the priorities for raising international standards and leading the global fight against corruption. As part of CIPFA Counter Fraud Centre’s inclusion in the UK Government Anti-Corruption Plan, the Centre offers a consultancy service to public sector organisations providing an anti-corruption health-check service

The health check service involves expert advice from leading consultants and specialist investigators who guide organisations through a comprehensive checklist to evaluate anti-corruption readiness. For more information and to arrange a health check contact CIPFA Counter Fraud Centre on 0207 543 5789 or email counterfraudcentre@cipfa.org.

Whilst there is a great deal the UK public sector can do at local, regional and national levels to prevent bribery and corruption, fighting corruption is a global concern too. The UN’s International Anti-Corruption Day campaign highlights the fact that “corruption is found in both rich and poor countries, and evidence shows that it hurts poor people disproportionately. It contributes to instability, poverty and is a dominant factor driving fragile countries towards state failure.” 

In some parts of the world, bribery and corruption are perceived as a ‘way of life’ or a ‘means to an end’. International Anti-Corruption Day offers insight and advice on how society, individuals and sectors can defend themselves by giving some examples of how to say ‘No’ to corruption. Ratifying and enacting the UN Convention against Corruption, for example, helps countries as a whole, because those that successfully attack corruption are perceived as far more legitimate in the eyes of their people, creating an atmosphere of stability and trust. To find out more about how to say ‘No’ to corruption visit the campaign website.

The CIPFA Counter Fraud Centre provides assistance and advice on ways to prevent and detect bribery and corruption. From education and training through to benchmarking and evaluation, the Counter Fraud Centre offers a range of services to UK based organisations as well as global audiences. Please contact one of our team for further information.