Governments need all the help they can get in the war against corruption. The enemy is resourceful, well-financed, and will engage in tactics legal and illegal to frustrate an investigation, defeat a prosecution, or undermine prevention policies. When looking for allies, though, many governments have until recently ignored an obvious source of recruits: the corporations they license to do business. Doing business in a country is not a right but a privilege, one commonly conditioned on a corporation’s agreement to register, hold an annual meeting, and publish a yearly financial report. There is no reason, however, why the privilege of conducting business should not also be conditioned on the corporation’s willingness to join the fight against corruption.
As the chart below shows, more and more governments now realize the advantages of enlisting the corporate sector in the fight against corruption. By my count (additions/corrections welcome) today 21 countries plus the Canadian province of Quebec require corporations to help in someway in the fight against corruption. The movement to enlist the private sector is picking up steam. Of the 22 jurisdictions shown below, 15, or almost three-quarters, have enacted legislation in 2016 and 2017. Argentina is the most recent additon, where a law was approved November 9, and if press reports are accurate Vietnam is about to become the 23rd.
The approaches vary. In a later post I will discuss the differences and also flag some of the ways these laws can be abused. In the meantime, I again solicit readers help in ensuring the chart is accurate.