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Progress on anti-bribery standard

by Maria Lazarte on
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Bribery is one of the greatest challenges to international development and poverty relief. Its consequences can be catastrophic for the economy, infrastructure, health, education, quality and safety.

During the past 15 years, many countries have made efforts at the national and international level to tackle bribery. Treaties have been signed and laws improved, and many countries are now prosecuting bribery offences. However, there is still work to be done. At the organizational level, bribery affects tendering and contract implementation, and increases costs and risks. One way organizations can help address this issue is by implementing anti-bribery management controls equivalent to those for quality and safety.

How can organizations fight bribery?

ISO is working on anti-bribery management systems standard ISO 37001 to help large, medium and small organizations from the public and private sectors, and from any country, prevent bribery and promote an ethical business culture. The standard specifies anti-bribery measures and controls and includes guidance for their implementation. Among the issues covered are how to:

  • Adopt and communicate an anti-bribery policy
  • Get buy-in and ensure responsibility from top management
  • Designate a manager or function responsible for anti-bribery management
  • Train personnel
  • Undertake periodic bribery risk assessments and appropriate due diligence on projects and business associates (clients, contractors, subcontractors, suppliers, consultants, joint venture partners, agents, etc.)
  • Implement vetting and controls over personnel to prevent bribery
  • Control gifts, hospitality, donations and similar benefits to ensure that they are not used for corrupt purposes
  • Request anti-bribery commitments from business associates.
  • Implement financial controls to reduce bribery risk (e.g. two signatures on payments, restricting use of cash, etc.)
  • Implement procurement, commercial and other non-financial controls (e.g. competitive tendering, two signatures on work approvals and variations, etc.)
  • Provide confidential reporting procedures (whistle-blowing)
  • Put in place a process to investigate and deal with suspected or actual bribery

“ISO 37001 will help an organization comply with international anti-bribery good practice and legal requirements,” says Neill Stansbury, Chair of the ISO committee developing the standard. “It will also reassure the organization’s owners, management, employees and business associates that the organization is following ethical business practices and reducing risks of financial loss and prosecution. It will therefore, ultimately, provide a competitive advantage to organizations.”

Where are we now?

The standard is currently at the Commitee Draft Stage. More than 80 experts from 44 countries are involved in its development. The Secretariat of the committee is held by BSI, the ISO member for the United Kingdom. ISO 37001 is expected to be finalized by end of 2016.


Learn more about ISO 37001 and its applications in our: