Is the anti-bribery business going too far?

This week’s Economist (Daft on graft, May 9th) launches a general broadside on the ‘compliance industry’ which is making a packet out of anti-corruption laws.  Its target is the “ravenous compliance industry of lawyers and forensic accountants”.   The obvious point should be made that a company falls prey to the ravens only if it gets itself into trouble (or an employee does) by indulging in corrupt activity.  It’s hardly a new revelation that when companies or individuals have to defend themselves against prosecution they spend as much on defence fees as any fines they might pay.  All of which goes to show (vested interest declared here by GoodCorporation) that prevention through good anti-corruption policies and processes is a lot better value for money than winding up on the wrong side of the law.

The article has further points to make.  More cases should go to court to give us some precedents to guide us, well said.  Handle cases efficiently and promptly to encourage self-reporting rather than keeping quiet, hear hear There is also a call for a harmonisation of anti-corruption laws worldwide. A lovely idea but so is global harmonisation of gun laws or carbon emissions rules.  But however distant the objective may seem, the OECD should be supported in its efforts not only to harmonise laws but to do so upwards, to the level of the most demanding in force currently. In the meantime, in this world of extra-territorial legislation, it pays global companies to manage their businesses to the highest legal standard.