Anti-bribery and corruption: Rising to the challenge in the age of globalization

Complying with anti-corruption harder than ever

KPMG International report reveals companies find complying with anti-corruption regulation more challenging than ever.

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Globalization has entered a new phase, posing greater challenges for anti-bribery and corruption (ABC) compliance than ever before. Two factors are creating new issues for companies, according to a new report by KPMG International. First, a growing number of governments around the world are tightening ABC regulations or introducing new ones. Second, as companies globalize their operations, they rely more heavily on third-parties than before to do business in far-flung parts of the world, often in areas where there is a high risk of corruption.  

A survey of respondents around the world, conducted by KPMG International, shows that companies are rising to the challenge but that a great deal more needs to be done to create a sturdy ABC compliance structure. For full details, read the report Anti-bribery and corruption: Rising to the challenge in the age of globalization.

“Despite greater efforts to build ABC frameworks, it’s clear that there are gaping holes in them,” says Petrus Marais, Global Leader of Forensic Services for KPMG.  “The problem is particularly acute in the management of third-parties who increasingly act as conduits for bribes, making it harder to track. Respondents to the survey admit it’s the biggest challenge in the field of ABC, but they are not doing enough to develop a culture of compliance both among their employees and their vendors and other business associates.”

The main findings of the survey include:

  • The survey shows a sharp increase in the proportion of respondents who say they are highly challenged by the issue of ABC, compared with a survey KPMG conducted almost five years earlier. The proportion of US and UK respondents who say it is highly challenging has jumped by more than 50 percent.
  • As companies continue to globalize, their management of third-parties pose the greatest challenge in managing ABC programs, ranking first in terms of auditing third-parties for compliance and third in conducting due diligence over them.
  • Despite the difficulty of monitoring their business dealings with third-parties, nearly half the respondents do not identify high-risk third-parties. More than half of those respondents with right-to-audit clauses over third-parties have not exercised these rights. 
  • Nearly two-thirds of companies indicated that M&A is part of their growth strategy, however global business comes up short when considering ABC risks; in fact many are unaware of the consequences of failing to identify these risks during the acquisition phase. 
  • Respondents complain they lack the resources to manage ABC risk, ranking fourth overall among the top challenges facing the survey’s respondents.
  • A top-down risk assessment would help companies set priorities, but executives admit that an ABC risk assessment is one of their companies’ top challenges.
  • Data analytics is an increasingly important and cost-effective tool to assess ABC controls. Yet only a quarter of respondents use data analysis to identify violations and of those that do so, less than half continuously monitor data to spot potential violations. A similar proportion of respondents (26 percent) couldn’t say either way.

“Despite better controls and stronger ABC policies, companies continue to fail to comply with the tougher regulations, and are fined heavily as a result,” says Jimmy Helm, Global Leader of Anti-Bribery & Corruption Services, KPMG.  “Much has been said about ‘tone at the top’, yet we continually see failings at middle and lower management level, which leads one to conclude that there is not enough focus on ‘tone at the middle’. Companies can have a perfect ABC program and yet continue to fall short, if they do not improve the way they do business.”


About the survey

The survey targeted 659 respondents covering 64 countries, with 140 respondents based in Central & Eastern Europe (including Russia), 113 in Western European countries (excluding the UK), 105 from the Asia – Pacific region, 66 respondents in the US, 64 from South America (31 in Mexico), 61 in South Africa and 41 in the UK. Industries were widely represented: banking comprised 20 percent, life sciences 12 percent, manufacturing 10 percent and energy & natural resources 8 percent. The survey was completed in October, 2014.  

For more information, please contact

Amy Greenshields

T: +1416-777-8749

Anti-Bribery and Corruption

Rising to the challenge in the age of globalization

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KPMG is a global network of professional services firms providing Audit, Tax and Advisory services. We operate in 155 countries and have 174,000 people working in member firms around the world. The independent member firms of the KPMG network are affiliated with KPMG International Cooperative ("KPMG International"), a Swiss entity. Each KPMG firm is a legally distinct and separate entity and describes itself as such.

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