1 min read
12 Jan

Friday, 12 January 2024 I read the news that German Software company, SAP, conceded and agreed to pay R4 billion in charges for bribery. SAP is not the first company nor the last to get caught paying these fees. 

I take your attention back to what I wrote about yesterday. I did mention that wielding ‘power’ allows one the ability to make things happen and allow things to stagnate or not happen. And, according to some, a form of ‘oiling of the gears’ are required to see through a new contract, a new business venture, or a new supplier.

I see the dangers of power, and the acknowledgment of power. Once services and products in exchange for money is not an acceptable means of trade anymore, we dive deep into the unchartered (maybe well known) waters of bribery and corruption. 

Where I work, we go through a yearly ritual of anti-bribery training. This training is particularly important when you’re working with and have decisive powers over contracts. Your completion of the training is an acceptance that you can never claim ignorance to bribery and corruption. It is also my employer's responsibility to ensure I am aware of and trained on the processes of engagement with contractors before, during, and after new or existing contractual arrangements. 

The recent SAP scandal raises questions about the efficacy of internal company and project governance controls. These controls, akin to checks and balances, are designed to prevent such incidents from occurring. Interestingly, in certain regions like China and specific Arab countries, the acceptance of gifts upon concluding contracts is a customary practice. However, even in these environments, corporations implement declaration systems and processes to ensure transparency. Employees are expected to declare any gifts or favourable treatments received from third-party entities. 

Now, how then, you ask yourself, do we still get these headlines? Despite rigorous training and robust governance structures, headlines featuring corporate missteps still persist. The root cause often lies in the human factor, a vulnerability analogous to that in the realm of Cyber Security. 

Corruption occurs because some individuals are willing to use illicit means to maximise personal or corporate gain. However, for these individuals to become involved in corrupt activity, circumstances must exist which do not prevent or discourage them from doing so.” - Global Infrastructure Anti-Corruption Centre. 

Circumstances will always exist where commercial transactions need to occur.

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