Clean hands are good for business
9 December 2010 - On International Anti-Corruption Day, marked today, UNODC Executive Director Yury Fedotov urges the private sector to become more active in the fight against corruption. As a crime that eats into company profits, increases prices for doing business and reduces the quality of goods and services, corruption undermines business confidence and corporate integrity and destroys the reputations of companies.
The wider impact of corruption on society is no less damaging. As a threat to development, democracy and stability, it distorts markets, curbs economic growth, discourages foreign investment and erodes public services and trust in officials.
It is around this understanding of the devastating effects of corruption that the joint campaign "Your NO Counts" has been developed by UNODC and the United Nations Development Programme to draw attention to corruption as one of the biggest impediments to achieving the Millennium Development Goals.
There are plenty of incentives for the private sector to fight against corruption, expense being one of the top reasons. "Corruption eats into profits, increases prices and reduces quality. But it is also immoral. It undermines business confidence and corporate integrity and destroys the reputations of respected companies," said Mr. Fedotov.
In the past year, a number of countries have stepped up the enforcement of anti-corruption laws and high-level prosecutions for corruption by major companies. While this is a welcome sign of change, many of these cases have ended in plea bargains. While companies have been fined billions, it is regrettable that the money all too often stays in the country where the settlements were reached, and not returned to the people from whom it was originally stolen. "Ordinary people are the losers. We need to address this integrity deficit," Mr. Fedotov continues.
In his message for International Anti-Corruption Day 2010, Mr. Fedotov stresses the role that the private sector plays in fighting corruption: "I challenge businesses to set the tone from the top with a zero-tolerance policy for corruption. Adopt anti-corruption policies in line with the United Nations Convention against Corruption and put in place the checks and balances needed to strengthen integrity and transparency. Take part in our global anti-corruption campaign, and use your leverage to foster ethical business practices."