Five forces that will reshape the global landscape of anti-bribery and anti-corruption

Our five predictions for the next five years and beyond

Corruption remains the single biggest issue facing today’s society

Bribery and corruption – often defined as abuses of power by people in positions of authority – are not new. In fact, they’ve been with us ever since humans began to organise into recognisable societies. And they’re certainly still going strong: it’s estimated that more than US$1 trillion is paid each year in bribes globally, and that US$2.6 trillion is lost to corruption. That’s 5% of global GDP – and the true figure is probably even higher.

Rising to the challenge

Given the profound harm that corruption inflicts on both citizens and societies, we believe that tackling it ranks as perhaps the biggest single challenge for all of us. Dealing with it demands action that goes way beyond developing a compliance programme and including a line item on a risk register.

Let us look at how the world can rise to this challenge. It’s down to all of us to work together to make this happen.

Our five predictions for the next five years and beyond

Enforcement will continue to evolve and spread geographically

We believe that anti-corruption enforcement will continue to expand and evolve globally in the coming years – and that this well-established direction of travel will be unaffected by the changing political landscape, including the rise of populism.

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Societal action will be more effective than toothless compliance regimes or unenforced regulation

What’s clear is that populations are no longer willing to stay silent in the face of corrupt behaviour. People suffering the consequences of corruption now have not only the motivation but also –increasingly – the means to expose, denounce and confront wrongdoing, often with the support of NGOs and the press.

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Technology will enable automated and preventative compliance

Imagine you’re the CEO of a global corporation, and you’re considering undertaking a major transaction or expansion into a new market. You know technology is continually advancing and evolving, so you ask yourself: “How can emerging technologies help me to make sure this is the right decision?”

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As societies become increasingly cashless, facilitation payments will fall

A number of countries across the world are well advanced in replacing physical cash with electronic means of exchange. The more traceable and auditable nature of electronic money means its rising usage will potentially help to drive out bribes and facilitation payments.

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Ethical & transparent businesses will become the new norm

Whether companies like it or not, corporate information and activities are heading irreversibly towards greater public transparency and visibility. With scrutiny from social media and NGOs meaning organisations now operate in a “global goldfish-bowl”, businesses find that ever higher levels of openness are being demanded by the public and forced by regulation.

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Time to go beyond compliance

The time is right, and the need is imperative, for business leaders to harness the power of their workforces – who themselves want to make the world a better place – to drive forward a business culture that has zero tolerance for corrupt practice. For organisations, this culture needs to shape everyday decisions and behaviour by all their people in every country, supported and enabled by the right technologies. Not all businesses will achieve this in five years. But those that succeed in doing so will be well-placed to win the battle for revenues, customers, talent and public trust. The opposite is equally true.

In closing, a thought on the ultimate victims of corruption. As we continue to debate the most appropriate anti-corruption programmes, and the need for a level playing field for business to compete on, let’s not forget the consequences if we get this wrong – and indeed the implications for the billions of people who’ll suffer those consequences every day of their lives.

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Contact us

Kristin Rivera

Global Forensics Leader, PwC United States

Manny Alas

Global & US Anti-Bribery and Anti-Corruption Leader, PwC US

Tel: +1 (646) 471 3242

Mark Anderson

UK Anti-Bribery and Anti-Corruption Leader, PwC UK

Tel: +44 (0) 20 7804 2564

Philip Upton

Global Forensic Technology Solutions Leader, PwC US

Tel: +1 (646) 471-7508

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