How to reduce the level of corruption in the country and in the individual business structure?

Recently the discussion of issues related to corruption has become popular within the Russian business community. SPIBA with the Nordic Council of Ministers held an international seminar on “Business and power: dialogue about fighting corruption.” The moderator of the event was Vladislav Zabrodin, Managing Partner of Capital Legal Services and Member of the SPIBA Executive Committee. The discussion has become relevant and important from a practical point of view for companies that are forming their own anti-corruption strategy.

Speakers of the conference were Karina Khabacheva, Executive Director of SPIBA; Elena Golubeva, Deputy Director of the Information Office of the Council of Ministers of the Nordic Countries in St. Petersburg; Gareth Ward, Consul General of the UK in St. Petersburg; Dmitry Nikonov, Head of the Anticorruption Sector of the Committee on Law, Order and Security, Government of St. Petersburg;  Jens Berthelsen, Partner, Global Advice Network (Denmark);  Pavel Savitsky, Senior Associate, Mannheimer Swartling;  Petr Korotkov, Regional Business Development Director, 3M Russia;  Glenn Kolleeny, Senior Partner,  Salans;  Andrei Ivanov, Associate Professor of Public Administration at GSOM, SPBSU and Head of the “Health Care Management” program;  Natalia Goldberg, CEO, Forenom in Russia.

The panelists discussed the main trends in the fight against corruption from the perspectives of the administrations of the Nordic countries and business in general, as well as specific experiences of individual businesses.

For Russian companies that work with international partners it was very important to discuss the controversial aspects of foreign anticorruption law applicable to Russia, in particular, The UK Bribery Act (UKBA) 2010 and The US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (US FCPA).  The application area of the UKBA 2010 is wider than the scope of US FCPA, which creates great risks for Russian companies. In connection with its implementation, companies need to focus on ways to minimize the risks of corruption.

Summing up the meeting, Vladislav Zabrodin noted that business opposition to corruption is really a feasible task, but efforts to minimize the level of corruption in a particular business structure will be effective only if they are implemented comprehensively. In particular, companies must adhere to the following principles:

1. The organizational structure of the company should be well calibrated and deliberately configured to fight the phenomenon of corruption. There must be a clearly defined system of decision-making, particularly in those areas where there is a risk of corruption. Depending on the size of the company, these decisions should be made at the level of senior management, or by those responsible for operations, by ensuring the use of a competitive bidding and selection process

2. Companies must have a due diligence process for contractors, including a full study of their activity and a comprehensive inspection of their financial condition and position in the market. The actualization of relationships with contractors should reflect the documented conditions of these relationships. Payments should be made via bank transfer to the accounts of contractors specified in the contract, through banks with a positive business reputation.

3. Companies need to develop and implement compliance programs and hold regular staff training on the topic. Employees must have a clear understanding that they will be held personally responsible and face severe consequences, even criminal charges, for illegal actions and violations of procedures in this area.

The above measures will help to eliminate or minimize the risk of corruption at the company level.

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