Belfast Telegraph

Bribery and corruption rife in UK business, say staff

Bribery and corruption is still rife in British business - that's the verdict of a quarter of employees in UK firms, according to a new report.

And 42% believe that company bosses would act unethically to help their firm survive, such as making cash payments or offering gifts to win business, findings of the latest fraud survey by accountancy giant EY show.

The report, which polled 100 UK employees and 4,100 in total across 41 countries, also found that a striking 54% of British workers would not blow the whistle on fraud or unethical behaviour due to worries over their career progression, while a third would not do so for fears over their personal safety.

But the UK appears to fare better than many other countries across Europe, the Middle East, India and Africa (EMEIA), with the survey revealing that more than half - 51% - of all respondents reporting that bribery and corruption is widespread in their country.

The Ukraine appears the worst offender, followed by Cyprus, Greece, Slovakia and Croatia, according to the poll.

EY said its report, entitled Human instinct or machine logic - which do you trust most in the fight against fraud and corruption?, found there had been little progress over the last two years, with few changes in the survey results from 2015.

Some of the shocking findings reveal that 12% of UK respondents said they believed their managers would offer a cash payment and that 16% would offer personal gifts to win or retain business.

Across the EMEIA region, a staggering 77% of board directors or senior managers say they would be willing to justify some form of unethical behaviour to help a business survive, with one in three willing to offer cash bribes.

The report suggested there was a failure among many bosses to lead from the top.

Less than a quarter - 24% - of UK employees questioned said they had frequently heard their senior management communicate about the importance of maintaining ethical standards in business.

Jonathan Middup, a partner at EY's fraud investigation and dispute services team, said: "Bribery and corruption is still perceived to be a prevalent issue in the UK, despite increased focus and scrutiny from the Government and regulators.

"The picture we are seeing from the survey and in our conversations with clients is that while many companies may think they have an effective compliance framework in place, in reality some are struggling to create a culture where it is in employees' interests to do the right thing."

He added it was "critical that the tone is set from the top, with senior managers leading by example".

The report also found that most British workers are unhappy with their emails and social media being spied on by employers to cut fraud and corruption risk.

Just 21% said their company should monitor emails, while o nly 7% felt their company should monitor their instant messenger accounts and 2% believe social media profiles should be monitored by employers - the lowest of all countries surveyed.