BUSINESS

Multinationals target internal corruption

DIMITRA MANIFAVA

TAGS: Business

More than half of the multinationals active in Greece have introduced complaint hotlines for cases of fraud and corruption, a senior Ernst & Young Greece official said on Wednesday.

The practice has picked up in the last 18 months, having been widely unknown in Greece as recently as three years ago, unlike in other countries, mainly the US, where it is now an established part of the corporate culture. Several such hotlines are designed to receive complaints anonymously, not by employees but by people outside the company, explained Yannis Dracoulis, head of Fraud Investigation and Dispute Services at EY Greece.

In presenting the results of the 14th Global Fraud Survey that EY performed in 62 countries, Dracoulis noted that, despite the installation of hotlines, perception of corruption remains particularly high: Sixty-two percent of respondents, including senior corporate officials mainly of multinationals in Greece, believe bribery and corruption are widespread within companies active in Greece, while the equivalent rate in Western Europe is substantially lower, at 20 percent. On a global level it stands at 39 percent.

However, there has been a notable reduction in the last couple of years, as in 2014 the rate stood at 71 percent and in 2015 at 69 percent. Dracoulis attributed that decline to “the cross-party consent observed in recent years for tackling such phenomena, although there is a long way to go from words to action.”

The long economic recession is to a great extent the reason cited for the relative tolerance shown in Greece toward unethical behavior as a means for a company’s survival. In Greece, 40 percent of respondents said they thought payments in cash, personal gifts or services, or distortion of economic records would be justified if a company’s survival were at stake. A similar rate is typically seen in emerging markets, while in Western Europe only 28 percent of survey respondents said such behavior could be justified.

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