Majority of SMEs Fear Business Losses from Anti-Corruption Stance

A recent report from ACCA, titled “Bribery and Corruption: The Hidden Social Evil on Your Doorstep,” explores the significant impact of bribery and corruption on SMEs worldwide, emphasising the urgent need for greater transparency and stronger regulatory frameworks.

The study reveals widespread concerns about the detrimental effects of bribery and corruption on SMEs, with 59% of small and medium-sized enterprises and their advisers believing that resisting bribery and corruption could lead to lost business opportunities.

Understanding the Benefits of Anti-Corruption

Despite these concerns, the report also highlights the advantages of maintaining strong anti-bribery policies. According to the survey, 77% of respondents believe that a robust anti-bribery stance boosts customer confidence, while 68% think it enhances their chances of securing contracts with large corporations and public sector organisations.

Jason Piper, ACCA’s Head of Tax and Business Law, stated, “Corruption is a poison; it distorts markets, stunts economic growth, and deters investment. Many small businesses lack the leverage to reject small bribe demands, forcing entrepreneurs to choose between paying the bribe or losing business, which is often not a real choice for those trying to support their families.”

Piper emphasised that the report aims to equip businesses and regulators with the insights and tools needed to combat corruption and promote an environment of transparency and trust. This could include leveraging the latest digital technologies, as regulators and enforcement agencies should adopt these tools to detect, prevent, and respond to corrupt activities, just as criminals do.

Global Data and Case Studies

The report, based on global data, expert opinions, and real-world case studies, examines the diverse impacts of corrupt practices on SMEs and economic development. It outlines the severe consequences businesses can face, including legal penalties and significant reputational damage.

Additionally, the report assesses the effectiveness of current anti-corruption laws and policies across various countries, noting that while progress has been made, much work remains to align international efforts.

A Call for Ethical Business Practices

Piper added, “As global markets become increasingly interconnected, the need for accountability and ethical business practices becomes more pronounced.”

ACCA hopes this report will inspire change, urging organisations across all sectors to evaluate their practices and adhere to the highest standards of business conduct.

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