This week, we had the opportunity to sit down with Jane Niven, Global Client Governance Counsel at JLL and Ethical Alliance Advisory Council Member, to hear her thoughts on anti-corruption issues.
What makes you passionate about anti-bribery and corruption?
Having lived and worked in many developing countries, Thailand and Russia to name a few, I have seen the devastating impact that corruption has on the lives of ordinary people. It is so easy for large foreign corporates to “just follow customary behaviour” and pay the small bribes here and there but this just adds to the overall problem. If the big multi-nationals don’t lead by example, who will?
If you had to describe in one word, ‘what’s next’ for anti-corruption, what would it be? Why?
“Localisation”. For so long we have relied on the FCPA and more recently the UK Bribery Act to wave the big stick when it comes to corruption. We need to make our colleagues, employees and management understand that local laws are as meaningful in the fight against corruption. We have to be prepared to seek enforcement under those laws whenever corruption occurs locally.
In your view, what is the future of enforcement?
If localisation is part of the trend and I hope that it will be, then I can see more enforcement at a local level. In India the “I’ve paid a bribe” movement has demanded that the government take action against corrupt officials and in China the government has aggressively prosecuted both government officials and private sector players for corrupt activities. I believe that this trend will only increase.
Which sector(s) do you think are the most vulnerable to bribery and corruption?
Any sector that relies heavily on the provision of goods and services by SMEs is inherently vulnerable. The real estate sector in which I work, especially where facilities and property management are concerned, is susceptible to corruption. The need to provide for family and friends makes the small bribes that are offered to secure contracts very attractive. Likewise the temptation to overbill.
If you had one message for our Ethical Alliance members, what would it be?
Don’t give up! It is not easy telling your colleagues that they cannot make a facilitation payment to ensure that a licence is granted or that giving a contract to your brother-in-law’s company is not acceptable. It is better to be unpopular than to see your company’s reputation destroyed by an FCPA prosecution.