x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

UAE companies debut with 5th place in bribery global survey

UAE companies are ranked fifth most-likely to attempt bribery while doing business overseas, according to a new study.

Last week, scandal engulfed Aluminium Bahrain following an investigation by the UK Serious Fraud Office. Phil Weymouth/Bloomberg News.
Last week, scandal engulfed Aluminium Bahrain following an investigation by the UK Serious Fraud Office. Phil Weymouth/Bloomberg News.

UAE companies are ranked fifth most-likely to attempt bribery while doing business overseas, according to a new study from Transparency International.

The group, based in Berlin, polled 3,016 senior business executives in 30 countries on their perceptions of corruption among companies of different national origin.

The study ranked 28 countries, finding companies from Russia the most likely to attempt bribery, followed by China, Mexico and Indonesia.

Companies from the Netherlands, Switzerland and Belgium were perceived as cleanest.

"It is clear that bribery remains a routine business practice for too many companies and runs throughout their business dealings, not just those with public officials," said Huguette Labelle, the chairman of Transparency International.

"And companies that fail to prevent bribery in their supply chains run the risk of being prosecuted for the actions of employees and business partners."

Bribery was viewed as possible among all businesses, but perceived as most likely to occur in the construction industry and in government-funded public works.

Middle Eastern countries fared poorly in the eyes of international businessmen. Companies from Saudi Arabia, the only other country from the region mentioned in the report, were viewed as the seventh most-likely to bribe to win business.

Last week, scandal engulfed Aluminium Bahrain, a smelting company, following an investigation by the UK Serious Fraud Office that led to the arrest of a British businessman on corruption charges.

Transparency International pressed government representatives from the Group of 20 (G20) leading and emerging economies meeting in Cannes today to tackle foreign bribery as a matter of urgency.

"New legislation in G20 countries is an opportunity to provide a fairer, more open global economy that creates the conditions for sustainable recovery and the stability of future growth," Ms Labelle said.

"Governments can press home the advances made by putting resources behind investigations and prosecutions of foreign bribery, so that there is a very real deterrent to unethical and illegal behaviour."

Some countries have taken measures to strengthen anti-bribery legislation in the last few years. The UK's Bribery Act, which came into effect on 1 July, allows companies from outside the UK to be held liable for a failure to prevent bribery if they do business there.

The UAE's penal code criminalise bribery to holders of public office. But the Emirates lacks a specific law covering all aspects of bribery, said an official at the Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development.

The penal code criminalises both giving and receiving bribes with sentences of between five and 10 years.

The UAE Government has recently moved to enforce higher standards of corporate governance on organisations and companies owned by the federal Government.

A resolution issued last week obliges the boards of all federally-owned institutions to form an Audit Committee to monitor their financial statements and subject their organisations to more rigorous internal monitoring.

ghunter@thenational.ae