Business Irish

Saturday 21 July 2018

More top Irish executives are prepared to act unethically

The survey examines views on fraud and corruption of 2,550 senior decision makers in a sample of the largest companies in 55 countries. Photo: Stock image
The survey examines views on fraud and corruption of 2,550 senior decision makers in a sample of the largest companies in 55 countries. Photo: Stock image
Dearbhail McDonald

Dearbhail McDonald

Half of Irish senior executives are prepared to act unethically to help their business thrive in an economic downturn, according to a global fraud survey conducted by EY.

That figure has risen to 50pc from 38pc just two years ago.

The survey examines views on fraud and corruption of 2,550 senior decision makers in a sample of the largest companies in 55 countries.

It found that 10pc of senior business leaders here say bribery and corruption happen widely in Ireland, almost four times the global average.

That figure also stands in stark contrast to the 47pc of Irish employees, across all levels, who said last year that they believed bribery and corruption are widespread in Ireland.

Less than 10pc of Ireland- based respondents said bribery and corruption happened widely in their sector.

Examples of unethical behaviour include entertainment, personal gifts as well as misstating financial performance or cash payments.

Julie Fenton, partner & head of EY's Fraud Investigation & Dispute Services, said: "The findings suggest that those at the most senior levels in Irish organisations may not be fully alert to the levels of unethical behaviour happening within their organisations, and in the market at large with such a marked disconnect between their views and the views of those on the ground we observed a year ago.

"The findings may also suggest something of a misunderstanding of what constitutes bribery or corruption."

The Ipsos MORI poll, carried out for EY between October 2017 and January 2018, set out to elicit the views of executives with responsibility for tackling fraud including chief financial officers, chief commercial officers, general counsel and heads of internal audit.

Almost six out of 10 decision makers in Ireland said that it is the responsibility of management to ensure their employees act with integrity, with 24pc stating that it is the board that should be accountable for employee integrity.

Only 12 pc of Ireland-based respondents said that it was individuals who are responsible for acting ethically, compared with a global average of 22pc. Even where employees do step out of line, only 44pc have been penalised for breaching policies in their organisation in Ireland, compared to 57pc globally.

The EY survey also examined the risks being faced by business globally and found that 60pc of Irish businesses say that the macroeconomic environment poses the biggest risk to their business, significantly higher than the global average of 42pc.

Over half (52pc) of Irish businesses say that a cyber-attack is among the biggest risks facing their business, versus a global average of 37pc.

In addition, 30pc say fraud and corruption are among the biggest risks facing their business, while 26pc say that geopolitical risk is the biggest concern.

"While macroeconomic and geopolitical factors are largely outside of the control of businesses, fraud and corruption and cyber-attacks are two risk areas highlighted that businesses can mitigate, and should be prioritised," said Ms Fenton.

"Businesses need to maintain a sharp focus on those issues that they can reduce, prevent or mitigate through a programme of education of the fraud risks that staff are facing, and the responsibility they have to mitigate them," she added.

Irish Independent

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