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Corruption remains high across countries, says EY study

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Despite high-level campaign and significant progress made against bribery and corruption across Europe, the Middle East, India and Africa (EMEIA), EY study has shown that they remained elusive among countries.
 
More worrisome is that the biennial study called “EY EMEIA Fraud Survey” noted that more than a quarter of the population acknowledged that it is common a practice in their business sector to use bribery to win contracts.
 
Still, another aspect of the study titled: “Human Instinct Or Machine Logic – Which Do You Trust Most in the Fight Against Fraud and Corruption? which surveyed 4,100 employees from large businesses in 41 countries, including Nigeria, showed the same ugly trend.

 
According to the findings, senior managements are failing to foster a culture of ethical behavior, with about 77 per cent of board directors or senior managers willingly justified some form of unethical behavior to help a business survive, while one-third said they would offer cash payments to win or retain business.
 
However, more than a quarter of respondents believed that regulation has had a positive impact on deterring unethical behavior, while another 77 per cent of respondents said that only the prosecution of individuals would help deter fraud, bribery and corruption by executives.  “74 per cent of respondents from Nigeria agreed to this view.”
 
But the future looked gloomy as respondents between the ages of 25 to 34, showed more relaxed attitudes toward unethical behavior, with 73 per cent stating that such behavior is justified to help a business survive.
 
EY EMEIA Fraud Investigation and Dispute Services Leader, Jim McCurry, said there is worrying evidence of a lack of leadership from senior executives to tackle these issues, which may be negatively influence the younger generation’s workforce.
 
“Companies need to take steps to create a culture in which it is in employees’ interests to do the right thing. Training and awareness programs can play a big role in helping individuals understand the consequences of fraud and corruption, and encourage them to come forward if they have concerns over unethical conduct,” he said.
 
But EY West Africa Forensic/Fraud Investigation and Dispute Services Leader, Linus Osita Okeke, said: “The importance of tone at the top and tone from the top cannot be over-emphasized. Such tone certainly drives the tone at the middle and the top at the bottom.
 
“Board members and senior managers must have to walk the talk if they desire to foster an ethical environment. Business leaders should constantly question themselves on what they are doing to build a better working world.”
 
Again, despite the fact that whistleblowing hotlines are now considered an important part of a company’s compliance programme, the awareness seems not to entrenched to the much-desired level.
 
As low as 21 per cent of respondents were aware of such a channel in their company, while on the other hand, 73 per cent considered providing information directly to a third party such as a law enforcement agency or regulator.
 
Respondents in emerging markets such as India (27 per cent) and Nigeria (24 per cent) admitted that they can get more protection to blow the whistle in comparison to three years ago.
 
However, only slight improvement in protection of whistleblowers has been seen in developed markets such as Italy (11 per cent) and France (four per cent).“Fear for personal safety continues to be an important factor or disincentive for people who are aware of wrongdoing to turn a blind eye and not report the incident,” Okeke added.


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