Employee Tech Hindering Workplace Anti-bribery Efforts

Photo credit: iStockphoto/Ja'Crispy

Companies are deploying messaging apps in their bid to drive collaboration and better communications in the workplace, In the current pandemic crisis, these are becoming vital for keeping employees tethered to their employers and customers.

Yet, half of Asian companies say that these apps are making it harder to monitor bribery and corruption. A recent report published by global law firm Hogan Lovells and called Steering the Course II, studied multinational businesses on all aspects of anti-bribery and corruption compliance, including their approaches, concerns, and regional differences.

While 59% of respondents in Asia complained about the use of apps such as WhatsApp, WeChat, Line, and QQ, chat apps are of most concern in China, with 68% of compliance officers expressing strong concerns compared to 57% globally.

“The bribery and corruption space is always evolving, and we see equally fast-paced advances and innovations in technology. Keeping on top of the way the two integrate is vital to understanding the risks,” says Maurice Burke, head of Hogan Lovells’ investigations, white collar and fraud practice in Southeast Asia.

Beyond apps

Messaging apps are not the only concern.

Almost all (97%) reported that the size of their compliance teams has either increased or remained the same over the last three years. But 30% believe that the size of their global compliance team is not enough.

With markets, business dealings in China was a concern for 57%. The main worry centered around the country’s AB&C compliance. Cultural factors also played a part, including the guanxi culture of relationship-building through gift giving.

“It really is crucial that businesses focus on their anti-bribery and corruption compliance and dedicate resources to this, otherwise they’re opening themselves up to massive risk,” says Burke. “Any changes in technology present a particular challenge and require close scrutiny before being rolled out organizationwide to ensure compliance.”

Compliance imbalance

The report notes that business leaders are finding it hard to balance business expansion with compliance pressure. Over two-thirds (68%) of compliance leaders globally believe that regulatory pressure is increasing, and over half (52%) say that their organization is cutting overall budgets despite this.

When choosing growth or compliance, 90% of compliance leaders felt pressure to choose the former. This, despite mounting bribery and corruption concerns.

In addition, 52% of compliance leaders globally (and 54% in Asia) noted that many people in their business are still failing to follow compliance procedures.

Photo credit: iStockphoto/Ja'Crispy