Tuesday 28 January 2020

Employees think bribery and corruption are prevalent in Ireland

Britain's Serious Fraud Office confirmed that it had fined Tesco £129m . Photo: PA
Britain's Serious Fraud Office confirmed that it had fined Tesco £129m . Photo: PA
Ellie Donnelly

Ellie Donnelly

Ireland's corporate culture still has much room for improvement, with staff being prepared to bend rules in respect of fraud and corrupt practices.

More than one in five of those questioned (22pc) said that they were prepared to act unethically to improve their own career progression or remuneration package.

Almost one in five employees here say they'd make cash payments to help a business survive, according to the EY Fraud Survey 'Human Instinct, Machine Logic', released today. The figure is significantly higher than the Western European average of 10pc.

An increasing number of survey respondents - 16pc, up from 12pc in 2015 - said they would recognise revenue earlier to meet a target. Recognition of revenue early, before it should be booked, is similar to the practice that led to the 2014 Tesco scandal, where the grocery giant accelerated the recognition of commercial income in its accounts. In March this year Britain's Serious Fraud Office confirmed that it had fined Tesco £129m in respect of the scandal.

The EY survey found employees here would consider ignoring unethical conduct in a team or at a supplier or even providing false information to management or third parties.

"Our research shows bribery and corrupt practices remain a significant risk in Irish business today. It also highlights why it's so important that senior management are alert to the potential unethical decisions that may be made by employees when they are under pressure to meet targets, hide errors or advance their own careers," Julie Fenton, partner and head of EY's fraud investigation and dispute services said.

Almost one in two Irish respondents believe bribery and corrupt practices are widespread here, significantly higher than the Western European average of 33pc.

The research has also found a decline in the number of respondents hearing senior management communicate about the importance of maintaining high ethical standards, with only 28pc of respondents saying that they had heard such communication from senior management.

"It is a business imperative that organisations put in place programmes and training to make their employees aware of the implications of their actions, and that they understand the consequences of behaving unethically," Fenton said.

The survey also found that employees were not open to introducing policies that would help to detect fraud, such as email, telephone or social media monitoring.

Of those surveyed, 60pc said that the monitoring of telephone calls by employers would be a violation of their privacy, 55pc felt that the monitoring of their emails would violate their privacy, while 49pc felt that the monitoring of their instant messenger accounts and apps would violate employee privacy.

The survey found that just 28pc of Irish respondents said that regulatory activity had a positive impact on ethical standards in their company, information which exposes a clear fault line within Irish business in which fraudulent practices can thrive.

Among employees concerned by potential wrong doing, 56pc of Irish respondents said that they had considered resigning but ultimately remained at their company, well above the EMEIA average of 37pc. Over 4,100 employees across 41 countries took part in the survey.

Irish Independent

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