There are many indications that Denmark now must relinquish its position as the country with the least corrupt public sector, according to Transparency International. Danish Police has arrested nearly 50 current and former public servants and accused them for being bribed with smartphones, computers and other electronic equipment from the IT vendor Atea. The case is the largest of its kind in Denmark and embarrassing, especially because the persons arrested work for the National Police, the Armed Forces, the Military Intelligence Services, the Public Prosecutor’s Office, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the City of Copenhagen.
Corruption is about misusing entrusted power for own benefit. It is estimated to an annual cost of more than five percent of the total global gross domestic product. It slows growth, distorts competition and creates unnecessary risks. Latest, Volkswagen’s cheating with environmentally hazardous emissions are estimated to be the cause of a total loss of 87 billion US dollars.
Nothing suggests that the extent of corrupt business practices will decrease, although legislation and business standards actually have been strengthened. In 2009, anti-corruption and bribery became a new tenth principle of the United Nations (UN) guideline for responsible business practices, UN Global Compact. In 2010, UK Bribery Act required all British companies and companies doing business in the UK, to report on how they prevent bribery and corruption. In Denmark, bribery can now give up to six years in prison. However, it seems like corruption still remains to be one of the world’s greatest challenges.
The hard hidden Danish institutions and other organisations and companies might learn what they can do themselves to prevent bribery and corruption from a new report “Engaging on Anti-bribery and Corruption: a guide for investors and companies”. Here the UN Global Compact and the Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI) describe how they together with a group of institutional investors have engaged during the latest two years with a group of listed companies to improve management of these issues.
First recommendation from the report is to publish a formal policy against corruption in all its forms and comply with all relevant laws and regulations. Further, a “zero-tolerance” including all kinds of facilitation payments could also be announced. Companies could make a risk assessment to identify potential risk of corruption. Other initiatives could be communication and training on the anti-corruption commitment for all employees. Whistleblowing channels and follow-up mechanisms for reporting concerns or seeking advice. Internal accounting and auditing procedures. Monitoring and improvement processes. Policies on anti-corruption regarding business partners. Use of independent external assurance of anti-corruption processes. And top management responsibility and accountability for implementation of the anticorruption commitment or policy is also recommended.
The Danish branch of Transparency International has recommended many of the same initiatives in another new report, prepared together with the Danish Business School, CBS. It describes the results of an assessment of how Denmark’s 20 largest listed companies and the 10 largest non-listed companies report on their anti-corruption management.
In General, the study shows positive progress since 2014 and a relatively high level compared to other comparable countries. Best companies are Arla, LEGO, Coloplast, Danske Bank and Novo Nordisk. At the bottom are Danish Crown, Danish Agro, GN Store Nord, DLG, Royal Unibrew, Danish Supermarket and Vestas.