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Business Principles FAQs

What is the purpose of the Business Principles for Countering Bribery?

Bribery laws and voluntary initiatives such as the United Nations Global Compact with its 10th Principle against Corruption, place significant obligations on business but do not necessarily provide a guide to the specific requirements of a comprehensive anti-bribery programme. Indeed, even where enterprises are committed to anti-bribery policies, these policies may often not be fully understood by all employees or implemented throughout the enterprise. The Business Principles and Transparency International’s Business Integrity Toolkit aim to provide a framework for detailed implementation for enterprises developing a new anti-bribery programme or benchmarking an existing programme.

Are there not too many standards and guidelines already?

It is true that in the last decade, a number of corporate guidelines and standards dealing with bribery and corruption have been developed, many of which have been influenced by the Business Principles. With their singular focus bribery, one of the most significant corruption-related risks facing business today, and their focus on raising corporate anti-bribery standards, we believe the Business Principles remain a benchmark in the field.

In addition, the initial development and revisions to the Business Principles followed Transparency International's approach of coalition building. The Business Principles were developed in collaboration with a multi-stakeholder Steering Committee drawn from business, academia, trade unions and civil society, which makes the Business Principles a unique multi-stakeholder standard in the area of bribery and corruption. As such, they are recommended by the United Nations Global Compact as a tool for implementation of the 10th Principle against Corruption.

Who is responsible for the Business Principles?

Transparency International assumes a leadership role by providing a Secretariat to the Steering Committee of the Business Principles. Transparency International seeks the input of Steering Committee members for the continuing development and dissemination of the Business Principles.

Do the members of the Steering Committee accept all the requirements of the Business Principles?

The Business Principles were agreed in consensus with the Steering Committee, but do not necessarily reflect in all details the policies of its individual members on particular topics.

Are enterprises expected to "adopt" the Business Principles?

The Business Principles are not designed to be "adopted" in their entirety or “signed up” to. They have been created as a good practice model and not necessarily have to be adopted word-for-word. Enterprises’ needs will vary according to risk, size, sector and geographic reach. In developing or amending their anti-bribery programmes, companies should take account of the specific nature of their activities and tailor their policies and programmes to address specific risks and vulnerabilities.

Although we do not expect enterprises to "adopt" the Business Principles, we hope that they will state that they have "applied" the Business Principles or used them as a reference point in developing or reviewing their own policies and programmes.

What is new in the Third Edition of the Business Principles?

The primary focus on bribery is maintained in this edition, but the Business Principles now include clauses and revised language on topics such as risk assessment, conflicts of interest, cooperation with authorities, zero tolerance of facilitation payments, lobbyists and communication and reporting, to reflect the importance of these matters in up-to-date anti-bribery practice and to achieve closer alignment with other leading codes and legal instruments such as the united nations convention against corruption.

Are the Business Principles meant for large enterprises only?

The Business Principles are intended for enterprises of all sizes. Regardless of their size, enterprises are expected to comply with the law. We do recognise, however, that small- and medium-sized companies may require tailored documents and tools for implementation in view of their limited resources.

What do the Business Principles say about small grease payments (facilitation payments)?

Facilitation payments are a form of bribery and should be eliminated. The Business Principles, which are meant to represent good practice, indicate that enterprises should recognise that facilitation payments are bribes and prohibit them.

How can enterprises make sure that their anti-bribery programme is effective?

The Business Principles require enterprises to monitor and review their performance in the area of bribery. This monitoring can be achieved either internally or by seeking assurance from an external body. Experience suggests that where improved implementation and enhanced credibility for stakeholders is critical, enterprises may seek external verification of their compliance with their Programme. To this end, Transparency International has developed the Assurance Framework for Corporate Anti-Bribery Programmes.

Will the Business Principles be changed again in the future?

Yes, the Business Principles have already undergone two revision processes, one in 2009 and in 2013. It can be expected that as experience is gained and standards of practice rise, the Business Principles will be revised periodically. They will also evolve to meet increasing demands from civil society and stakeholders for improved accountability and probity in business.

How can I obtain more information about the Business Principles?

Please send your questions and comments to the Transparency International Business Principles Secretariat at [email protected]