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Corporate transparency

Transparency International, the anti-corruption pressure group, on corporate transparency.

Every January, the world’s most powerful people gather in the Swiss Alps to think through mankind’s woes and ponder how to make the world a better place. In 2011 many people chose not to listen. They took to the streets to protest abusive government practices and rail against the excesses of the rich.

The 2012 Davos meeting appears to recognise that popular confidence in leaders of politics and business is at a new low, and have set the agenda accordingly. The theme of “new models” is appropriate to a world seeking reform of the global financial system, and stronger relationships between the rulers and the governed.

The World Economic Forum is worried that if the global citizenry does not take hold of new ways – or models – to bring people, institutions and technology together, human potential will be limited. Hopefully these new models also include new ideas about governance; ideas that address economic crises and intolerant regimes.

The global shift resulting from the emergence of new economic powers raises questions about models of growth and economic prosperity. Transparency InternationaI’s Bribe Payers Index (BPI), published in November 2011, classifies industrialised countries (including Brazil, Russia, India and China – collectively known as “BRIC”) according to the propensity of firms from those countries to pay bribes when operating abroad. According to the report, companies from Russia and China, who invested US $120 billion overseas in 2010, are seen as most likely to pay bribes abroad.

The BPI shows a number of companies from major exporting countries still use bribery to win business abroad, despite awareness of its damaging impact on corporate reputations and ordinary communities. The inequity and injustice that corruption causes makes it vital for governments to redouble their efforts to enforce existing laws and regulations on foreign bribery and for companies to adopt effective anti-bribery programmes. In this spirit, all major exporting countries should commit to the provisions of the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention.


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