2014 Global Fraud Survey

Compliance efforts running out of steam?

Reinforcing the commitment to ethical growth

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The prevention of bribery and corruption is on the agenda of governments around the world.

In this context, some of our survey findings on attitudes to bribery and corruption and how companies are responding to the risks are surprising.

Executives are exposed to risks:

According to our respondents, there has been no reduction in the perceived level of bribery and corruption since our last survey.

  • In 40% of the countries we surveyed, more than half the respondents said corruption was widespread.
  • In Egypt, Kenya and Nigeria, the proportion that thinks that corruption is widespread is over 80%.
  • Consistent with our last survey, people continue to believe that bribery and corruption are less likely in their industry or sector (13%) than in their country (39%).

Bribery and corruption unchanged

View infographic

Q: For each of the following, can you tell me whether you think it applies, or does not apply, to your country or industry, or whether you don’t know? Bribery/corrupt practices happen widely in business in this country

The survey results show that compliance efforts may be at risk of losing momentum and of not having the lasting impact that they need to have to protect organizations from the clear threats of fraud, bribery and corruption.

Executives should expect to be directly exposed to these bribery and corruption risks:

  • Ten percent of C-suite interviewees have been asked to pay a bribe in a business situation
  • CEO respondents indicate that they are more likely to be asked to pay bribes than senior management colleagues, with more than one in five CEO’s saying that they had been approached in the past

Are some executives willing to act unethically to win or retain business?

Not only are executives exposed to risks, but our survey shows their apparent willingness to take them. When asked which from a list of potentially unethical actions they felt justifiable to help a business survive, over a third chose at least one as being acceptable.

Are compliance efforts running out of steam?

There is no doubt that the majority of businesses have put in place many of the building blocks of effective compliance programs.

Has compliance stalled?

View infographic

Q: For each of the following, please tell me whether it applies, or does not apply, to your organization, or whether you don’t know?

Has compliance stalled?

EY infographic showing level of  compliance within companies

Q: For each of the following, please tell me whether it applies, or does not apply, to your organization, or whether you don’t know?

Base: All respondents 2014 (2,028); all respondents 2012 (1,808)


But this should not distract from the fact that a persistent minority of businesses have not taken event the basic steps. One-fifth of respondents say that either their business still does not have an ABAC policy or that they do not know if there is a policy.

Furthermore, looking at the results since the last survey, there are indications that compliance efforts may be running out of steam and not getting the level of engagement from senior management that is necessary. For example, there has been a reduction in the number of respondents who have attended ABAC training; it is now below 50%. In addition, only 38% of C-Suite executives have attended training.

Are boards sufficiently engaged?

While boards often set a zero-tolerance tone and encourage management to build teams to address the risks of bribery and corruption, our experience tells us that ongoing oversight from the board is essential if the risks are to be more effectively mitigated.

Our results show that in companies where the leadership is most engaged and demanding, there is a higher level of compliance activity across the firm. It is essential that the board sets a challenging plan, continues to ask tough questions and actively holds senior management accountable for the results. This level of scrutiny will drive a higher level of engagement among senior executives and reduce the risk of compliance activities being delegated too far.