A new report from ACCA, Combating Bribery in the SME Sector, reveals a concern that many SMEs are not taking the right steps to mitgate the risks of exposure to bribery and corruption.
While the major focus of attention in global anti-bribery and corruption efforts up until now has been on large companies and public bodies, it should not be forgotten that SMEs make up the great majority of businesses in all countries. It is not credible that the SME sector is immune from pressures to make illicit payments in order to win or retain contracts, and the ACCA survey bears this out.
The global findings show that:
· 31% think businesses have been willing to mis-state financial statements to cover up for corrupt behaviour since the onset of the global financial crisis in 2007 / 8
· 75% believe high profile prosecutions would be most effective in helping SMEs reduce their bribery and corruption risk, followed by 65% saying laws granting whistle-blowing rights to employees and businesses would be effective in combatting bribery and corruption.
· 71% of respondents believe SMEs would be able to spot bribery and corruption in relation to the offer of businesses-related gifts or unsolicited payments
· 77% say that there is a strong business case for adopting effective anti-bribery credentials, saying this would enhance SMEs’ reputation for high standards of business conduct, 76% believed that it would help them comply with legislation, and 69% believed they would profit from enhanced consumer confidence in their business
· 50% of global respondents do not think anti-bribery laws should incorporate a modified regime for SMEs; the strongest support came from south Asia where 55% think that anti-bribery laws should include a modified regime for SMEs
· The strongest opposition for modifications came from Sub-Saharan Africa – 61%; and Central and eastern Europe - 59 %.