4.3 Conflict of Interest
When an individual in the private or public sector accepts abribe, he or she creates a conflict of interest. That is, theycannot accommodate the interests of another party withoutcompromising the responsibilities of their own position.
4.4 Role of Corporate Governance
Session 1 dealt with the scope of corporate governance,including the key underpinning concepts (all of which aremostly avoided in corrupt practices) and the application of governance procedures to public life (e.g. the Seven Principles of Public Life).
Session 3 considered the role of the board (e.g. to set the organisation's values and standards and to maintain a sound system of internal control based on risk management).
Session 3 also considered the strategy, scrutiny, risk and roles of oversight by NEDs as well as the strong characteristics required of an effective NED.
Session 7 covered corporate social responsibility, further extended by Session 20 in dealing with social and environmental issues and sustainability. Bribery and corruption can never be considered as sustainable—the resources stripped out by corrupt practices can never be replaced and are therefore not available to meet the needs of future generations. The danger of such practices becoming the accepted norm is that entities, the country and society as a whole become trapped in a downward spiral of destruction.
Session 9 emphasised the need for strong internal control in corporate governance (and risk management) particularly to assure the entity's compliance with applicable laws and regulations—bribery and corruption is usually illegal in all jurisdictions and is most generally considered to be morally and ethically unacceptable by society.
Within strong corporate governance, the roles of internal audit and audit committees (Session 10) can never be underestimated—from providing assurance on internal controls, assessing and appraising management's risk procedures and responses through to providing appropriate channels for independent consultation and whistle-blowing on suspected illegal actions (e.g. to the senior NED on the audit committee).*
Bribery and corruption is, ultimately, a legal and reputational risk that must be managed on a zero-tolerance basis (Sessions 12–14). Bribery and corruption awareness are at the core of embedding risk awareness—job contracts, job descriptions, ethical and moral training (Session 15), codes of conduct (Session 18) and top-down leadership from the CEO, chairman and board of directors.