Corruption prevention and investigation for companies

Globalization is advancing and with it the issue of corruption, which has always been part of the business world, but has now also long since arrived in our latitudes. For far too long, corruption has been shunted off to distant countries and dismissed as a third-world problem. But it has long been clear that corruption is also taking place in our midst and that entire industries are being systematically infiltrated. Some of the actors act in a highly professional manner and work with subtle techniques that are often difficult to see through, especially for laypeople.

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What is meant by corruption prevention?

Corruption prevention is classically understood as the prevention and avoidance of corruption. The term corruption refers to the abuse of public or private power for personal gain or enrichment. Corruption prevention therefore encompasses all measures and strategies aimed at preventing, reducing or combating corruption when it should already be underway. We are there for you with our many years of experience and our experts, and we also act in an advisory capacity, so that corruption has no chance right from the start and cannot gain a foothold in your company in the first place.

Corruption prevention measures that we warmly recommend and that also distinguish our repertoire include, for example, the introduction of transparent procedures and rules for decision-making processes, improving the culture of integrity in companies and public authorities, and training and sensitizing employees to the issue of corruption. A vigilant workforce that actively keeps an eye on this issue and is enlightened in all areas usually does not give corruption processes the chance to unfold in the first place. Strengthening the independence and impartiality of control and monitoring bodies and effective prosecution of corruption cases by judicial and law enforcement authorities are also important elements of corruption prevention. Good networking to these pathways is also a great advantage.

Effective corruption prevention is important to maintain the integrity of institutions, organizations and companies and to strengthen public trust in them. If you are well positioned here, you can declare war on corruption in advance, ward it off effectively and successfully keep it away from your company.

What does an efficient corruption investigation look like?

Effective corruption investigation usually requires close cooperation between different institutions, including law enforcement agencies, financial authorities, regulators and private security providers. A successful corruption investigation usually involves several steps and is a complex process, which we have broken down in a bit more detail below for better understanding.

First, sufficient information must be gathered about the possible corruption case to gain an understanding of the scope and seriousness of the offense and the individuals and organizations involved. In particular, this can be done through witness testimony, monitoring of communications such as cell phones and laptops, an analysis of financial transactions, and other investigative methods. Here, our investigative team can do the exact work and act with the resources that will subsequently lead to success. Often, evidence that can be used in court or under criminal law fails because the work is not sufficiently conscientious and too unprofessional.

After this step, it is imperative to preserve the evidence in order to successfully prosecute the case in court. Specifically, this includes physical evidence such as documents and computer data, but also credible and documented testimony. This is the only way to analyze the evidence and understand the case, which then leads to determining the role of the people involved. This includes reviewing financial transactions, analyzing emails and other communications, and compiling evidence that can be used at trial and accepted by any prosecutor or judge.

If sufficient evidence is now available, it is essential that the crimes committed be consistently prosecuted. This can include arresting suspects, bringing charges, and conducting court proceedings, always partnering with plaintiffs to provide advice and assistance.

An example of a successful corruption investigation is the Trienekens case, which took place in 2005 in the middle of Germany. At the end of August of the aforementioned year, Rhein-Sieg-Abfallwirtschaftsgesellschaft (RSAG) filed a claim for damages in the amount of more than 12 million euros against Hellmut Trienekens, the Viersen waste disposal contractor known as the “Waste Godfather of North Rhine-Westphalia,” before the Bonn Regional Court. The former CDU municipal politician and former managing director of RSAG, Karl-Heinz Meys, is accused by Trienekens of having received more than two million euros in bribes in order to procure lucrative waste disposal contracts for the company with a total value of around 240 million euros. Meys was already sentenced to six years in prison for bribery last December. Trienekens, who sold his company to RWE Umwelt in 2002, has always denied the allegations of bribery and will soon have to stand trial. The new managing director of RSAG explained that the aim of the action for damages was to repay the illegally obtained millions in the interest of the citizens of the Rhein-Sieg district.

For which companies and industries is corruption prevention interesting?

Corruption prevention is particularly relevant for companies and industries that deal with sensitive infrastructure or cooperate with government authorities. Examples of such industries include the construction and building materials industry, the pharmaceutical industry, the energy and raw materials industry, the telecommunications and IT industry, the aerospace industry, and the transport and logistics industry. But companies in other industries that work with public institutions, customers or suppliers should also have an interest in corruption prevention. The areas in the companies that are susceptible to bribery are, in particular, purchasing, sales, logistics, but also the general planning and strategy department.

Corruption can affect the confidence of customers, investors and, above all, the public in a company and have a negative impact on business results. Therefore, regardless of their industry, companies should always have a strong interest in avoiding corruption and implementing an effective corruption prevention compliance program. We are available here as a contact for successful prevention and advice at any time.

Which companies need a corruption investigation?

Companies should always conduct a corruption investigation if they have reasonable suspicion that corruption is taking place within the company or with current business partners. A corruption investigation may also be necessary if a company has knowledge that it may have violated anti-corruption laws or if a business partner or employee is accused of having engaged in corrupt conduct. Some industries and companies have a higher risk of corruption than others, and companies operating in these areas should be especially vigilant and conduct a corruption investigation if they have specific suspicions. Industries at increased risk for corruption include natural resources, energy, construction, telecommunications, defense, and pharmaceuticals.

At this point, however, it is also important for us to emphasize that a corruption investigation is not always necessary if there are indications of bribery. However, companies may conduct a comprehensive risk analysis and, if necessary, seek professional assistance in conducting a corruption investigation to ensure that the company is acting in compliance with applicable anti-corruption laws and to detect any violations.

What you should consider when fighting corruption in the company

If everything is to go smoothly and the fight against corruption in the company is to be successful, it requires a comprehensive approach, which is why we have concluded by listing some tips and action guidelines that we believe companies absolutely must follow when fighting corruption.

The implementation of a compliance program

Every vulnerable company should implement an effective compliance program to prevent corruption. Such a program should include rules of conduct for employees, provide training and awareness-raising activities that are also offered by companies like ours, and include internal control bodies and monitoring mechanisms. In addition, there must also be a point of trust for employees so that possible corruption violations can be reported in confidence and without fear of disadvantage.

Perform a risk analysis

Companies should conduct a risk analysis to identify and assess potential corruption risks. This can help identify weaknesses in the compliance program. Measures can then be taken to effectively minimize the risk of corruption.

Perform due diligence on business partners

Companies should always consider very carefully with whom they do business and enter into a business relationship. Careful due diligence on business partners and suppliers can help minimize the risk of corruption violations in advance and identify any dangers at an early stage.

Observe the internationally applicable anti-corruption laws

Companies must comply with applicable national and international anti-corruption laws, such as the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) in the USA and the UK Bribery Act. In doing so, it is important to ensure that the company acts in accordance with these laws and does not pay or receive bribes.

Perform internal investigations

If corruption is suspected, the company may conduct an internal investigation with the help of experts to review the incident and take corrective action if necessary. This investigation should be conducted independently and thoroughly, and all relevant legal aspects should be considered so that the company is adequately protected from legal consequences.

Cooperation with law enforcement agencies and professionals

If corruption is suspected, companies should cooperate with the relevant law enforcement authorities and additionally bring external experts on board. Such cooperation will help to avoid unnecessary mistakes, which may be very expensive and painful for a company.

In conclusion, all that remains for us to say is that companies and businesses should take the issue of corruption seriously and need appropriate instructions on how to act in order to minimize the general risk of corruption. Companies should ensure that they have an effective compliance program, conduct careful due diligence on business partners, comply with applicable anti-corruption laws, and conduct internal investigations of suspected cases. By taking this proactive approach, each company can minimize the individual risk of corruption violations and strengthen the trust of customers and the public in the long term.