Bribery causes a lot of damage to economies. It is for this reason that a call has been made at the national and international levels to take effective action to fight corruption and limit the damage caused by it.

The OECD Anti-Bribery Convention establishes legally binding standards to criminalise the bribery of foreign public officials in international business transactions and provides a host of related measures that make this effective. It is the first and only international anti-corruption instrument focused on the ‘supply side’ of the bribery transaction.

The OECD Anti-Bribery Convention was signed on 17 December 1997 and came into effect on 15 February 1999.

Since then, all OECD members have made bribery a crime and have changed their laws to comply with the convention requirements.

Bribery prevention is increasingly being seen as a management issue following many recent prosecutions of companies and individuals, and should thus be treated in a similar manner as safety and environment management.

Organizations now require proof that adequate anti-bribery measures are in place. But the question raised is this: what should the minimum standard to consider be?

The BS10500 Anti-bribery Management System was the first standard created in the UK in response to the Bribery Act 201.  In 2013, the ISO organization[i] established a project Committee to publish a new international stand for anti-bribery management systems: the ISO 37000. The first draft is based on the BS 10500. This standard uses the same template as ISO 9001 and ISO 14001. Its formulation involves 80 experts and is currently under development.

ISO 37001 is designed to help organizations implement an effective anti-bribery management system. It specifies a series of measures which the organization should implement to help the organization prevent, detect and address bribery, and provides guidance in relation to their implementation.

ISO 37001 can be used in any country. It is designed to aid  the organization to be compliant both with international good practices and with the relevant legal anti-bribery requirements in all countries in which the organization operates.

It requires the organization to implement a series of measures in a proportionate and reasonable manner. This includes:

  • adopting an anti-bribery policy
  • leadership support from top management
  • appointing a person to oversee anti-bribery compliance
  • providing training to personnel
  • undertaking bribery risk assessments and due diligence on projects and business associates
  • implementing financial and commercial controls, reporting and investigation procedures

ISO 37001 can benefit organizations in different ways:

  • by assisting an organization in the implementation of an anti-bribery management system, or by enhancing its existing controls
  • by providing assurance to the management, owners, funders, customers and other business associates, that the organization has implemented internationally recognised good practice anti-bribery controls
  • by helping to provide evidence to the prosecutors or courts that the organization has taken reasonable steps to prevent bribery in the event of an investigation

ISO 37001 is a “Type A requirement standard” and is therefore capable of independent certification.

The first certifications will take place when the standard is published, most likely in the beginning of 2017.

[i] ISO is the International Organization for Standardization which develops and publishes International Standards, and which is made up of the national standards bodies from 163 member countries.