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Dubai firms need more awareness against graft

Dubai firms need more awareness against graft


Dubai / Emirates Business

Two thirds (66%) of board members in Dubai say their anti-bribery and corruption policies do not work effectively, according to a new international study from Eversheds.
Beneath the Surface engaged with 500 board-level executives in large organisations across 12 countries – including 50 in Dubai – to find out how businesses are responding to bribery and corruption in their organisation. The findings paint a contradictory picture, where those at the top of companies understand the seriousness of these issues – for profits and reputation – but are slow to back this up with compliance programmes to prevent, monitor and manage corrupt behaviours. All of the respondents from Dubai said bribery and corruption were important issues for their business. But, just over a third of these board-level executives (36%) said they actually understood their anti-bribery policy, while only one in 10 felt they have undertaken enough anti-bribery training. However, 58% believe their approach to managing bribery and corruption is appropriate for their business.
When asked why bribery and corruption were significant issues, 68% of respondents in Dubai identified the potential impact on commercial success, 14% identified the potential reputational damage and the remaining 12% identified the strong ethical culture at their organisation.
Rather worryingly, more than a third (36%) of respondents admitted that their business does not conduct specific anti-bribery due diligence as part of M&A activity. Rebecca Copley, Eversheds partner and head of the fraud and investigations group in the Middle East, said: “Off the back of last week’s government-led international anti-corruption summit in London – which seeks to galvanise a global response to tackle corruption – it’s clear that bribery remains a problem. Businesses do understand the seriousness of bribery and corruption and the potentially devastating impact of a public investigation on their bottom line and their reputation. This in itself represents significant progress. Until recently bribes were viewed by many as just the price of working in certain jurisdictions and sectors, but companies increasingly see bribery and corruption as being bad for business. Governments have typically tried to fight bribery by deterring companies with stringent penalties, but they need to work with the private sector to articulate the business case for anti-bribery.
The challenge for businesses in the UAE is to ensure their approach to anti-bribery and corruption is appropriate and commercially sensible. This means less reliance on policies and greater focus on creating the right culture and environment in which sound business practices can flourish. Boards need to take action in three areas – a thorough risk assessment, which is regularly reviewed; training that promotes discussion and shapes behaviours, and ongoing monitoring.

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