Home' acuity : Acuity Sept 14 Contents "We don't have many companies with
a lot of experience in operating in some
of these jurisdictions," he says.
"I think they assume that business
Australia. Therefore, they might not
respond with an appropriate, robust
"For instance, figures from the
Australian Superannuation Investors
Association indicate that only 16% of
Australian-listed companies actually
ban facilitation payments in their codes
of conduct. And only 59% actually
"By world standards, that's very low."
He says, although the OECD generally
ranks Australia among the Top 10
countries for business transparency
and anti-corruption practices, its anti-
corruption report card should have
'could do better' written on it.
"The first thing the OECD says is that
Australia's enforcement record is poor,"
"Secondly, there is no national plan,
there is a series of state plans.
Thirdly, the OECD comments that if
you look at Australian businesses codes
of conduct and corporate reporting,
there is a very low record of compliance
compared to other countries.
"Even though we think we have a good
corporate culture, and I think we do, there
are clearly areas where we don't 'walk the
talk' compared to other countries."
At the end of the summit, the B20
Australia chair Richard Goyder
announced 20 recommendations for
G20 leaders to consider when they meet
in Brisbane in November.
The recommendations aim to lift
global GDP by 2%, create 100 million
jobs and generate a further US$6b in
And anti-corruption measures
are the heart and soul of the
Four recommendations focus
specifically on increasing business
transparency and tackling bribery and
corruption without having adverse
effects on growth.
They call on G20 leaders to:
• implement transparent infrastructure
procurement and approval processes
• harmonise anti-corruption laws to
provide incentives for best-practice
compliance programmes and self-
reporting of breaches
• endorse applicable legal frameworks
-- such as the OECD Anti-bribery
Convention and the UN Convention
Against Corruption -- and set up
or strengthen the role of national,
• endorse the G8 core principles on
transparency of ownership and
control of companies and legal
It's a big ask trying to wind back global
bribery and corruption in business
which is, in effect, a global underground
economy with turnover estimated in
trillions of dollars.
It might be a big ask, but Andrew says
the underlying strategy is simple: we
have to move beyond the "big stick"
approach of the past.
"We have to move to a regime
where companies feel they can openly
report and expose corruption and
governments will act and enforce -- and
crack down on corruption," he says.
"If, for instance, you're bidding for a big
infrastructure project and you say a
particular minister or whoever wants a
bribe, then you're out of the running. So
the first thing is to get a regulatory regime
that is supportive of whistleblowers and
people coming forward.
"This means providing the right
levels of incentives to have compliance
programmes and an internal culture
and codes of conduct whereby these
issues surface -- what's called self-
"Basically, governments and
businesses need to take corrective action
to move to a self-reporting regime rather
than the existing fractured, regulatory
regime which hasn't been effective."
So having done its work, how
influential can the B20 be?
Andrew thinks "very" -- for two main
reasons: the efforts of countries such as
India and China will have a knock-on
effect, and capital markets will want to
focus on countries that are cleaning up
their acts. "Capital markets are focusing
very much on countries that have a
good compliance record where there
is greater transparency and they've got
confidence in their reporting," he says.
"I also think responsible businesses,
themselves, will influence a lot of
companies to change and come on board.
"Also, the very fact that corruption has
been on the G20 agenda now for four
years, you can pretty clearly call out those
countries that are not doing enough.
That peer group pressure, I think, will
be significant when you start to look at
the requirements of those countries,
whether they be in aid, World Bank
finance or infrastructure projects.
"You can pretty clearly say there's
going to be an economic disincentive
unless you start to implement and
enforce these particular rules." •
is an award winning freelance journalist.
SEPTEMBER | acuity
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