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Business Principles for Countering Bribery

Changes to foreign bribery laws and a recent trend towards more vigorous enforcement of such laws have shown that a failure to address bribery can exact a very high cost on companies. The Business Principles for Countering Bribery is a useful and current tool for companies dealing with the challenge and risks posed by bribery. The tool reflects recent developments in anti-bribery practice worldwide and incorporates approaches by business, academia and civil society.

Since its initial publication in 2003, the Business Principles have been used by many leading companies around the world to benchmark their own anti-bribery policies and procedures. The tool has also served as a solid basis for the development of other anti-bribery codes and voluntary initiatives

The 2009 edition charts new territory by placing greater emphasis on public reporting of anti-bribery systems and in recommending that enterprises commission external verification or assurance of their anti-bribery programme.

The Business Principles for Countering Bribery provide a framework for companies to develop comprehensive anti-bribery programmes. Whilst many large companies have no-bribes policies all too few implement these policies effectively. We encourage companies to consider using the Business Principles as a starting point for developing their own anti-bribery programmes or to benchmark existing ones.

The development of the Business Principles for Countering Bribery, introduced in December 2002, was spearheaded by Transparency International in co-operation with Social Accountability International. The Business Principles are the product of a collaborative effort of a multi-stakeholder Steering Committee drawn from companies, academia, trade unions and non-governmental bodies.

Download Transparency International Business Principles for Countering Bribery
(English, Second Edition, 2009 )


Arabic version
French version (First Edition, 2004)
Indonesian version
German version (First Edition, 2003)
Japanese version
Macedonian version
Russian version (First Edition, 2002)
Spanish version (First Edition, 2002)
Turkish version

Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) Edition

To cater for the needs of smaller businesses, TI has produced an edition of the Business Principles for Countering Bribery tailored to the needs of small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs). More than 95% of the world’s business is carried out by SMEs which may not have the same human and financial resources as larger companies but are just as vulnerable to the risks of bribery.

The SME Edition includes model anti-bribery principles for companies with fewer resources of time, money and people. It provides practical guidance for developing anti-bribery programmes that suit the size and structure of smaller enterprises.

The SME Edition can also be used by larger companies to encourage SMEs in their supply chain to implement no-bribes policies and practices.

For more information, please contact: SMEbusinessprinciples@transparency.org

Business Principles for Countering Bribery - Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) Edition (pdf for download)

Principes de conduite des affaires pour contrer la corruption - Edition Petites et Moyennes Entreprises (PME) (French version, pdf for download)

Principios Empresariales para Contrarrestar el Soborno - Edición para Pequeñas y Medianas Empresas (PYMES) (Spanish version, pdf for download)

Implementation is vital

TI is developing a suite of tools to support companies in the task of implementing anti-bribery policies and programmes. These currently include:

  • TI Six Step Implementation Process: a how-to guide for companies that are early on in the process of devising and implementing an anti-bribery programme.
  • TI Self-Evaluation Tool: A powerful checklist which enables companies to assess their anti-bribery performance using an extensive range of indicators.
  • Anti-Bribery Checklist: CEOs from large or small companies can now carry out a high-level assessment of their company’s anti-bribery approach with TI’s ABC

Building confidence in corporate anti-bribery programmes through independent assurance

Transparency International (TI) is leading efforts to develop a Framework for Voluntary Independent Assurance of Corporate Anti-Bribery Programmes.

Despite greater awareness of the risks related to bribery and corruption, corporate scandals continue to make the headlines. Against this background, demand is growing from stakeholders and from companies themselves for mechanisms that can enhance confidence in their anti-bribery programmes.

TI has been developing the Framework in collaboration with the World Economic Forum Partnering Against Corruption Initiative (PACI) in a working group that includes representatives from the six leading global accounting networks.

The Framework will enable assurance professionals to provide an independent opinion on whether a company’s anti-bribery controls are suitably designed. It will also be a useful reference for companies to improve their anti-bribery practice.

In parallel, TI aims to examine with other providers of assurance and certification how best to use the Framework and build on it to develop a verification process that would focus on the effective implementation of anti-bribery controls throughout a company

TI plans to submit the Framework for public consultation in the second quarter of 2010. The consultation will extend to providers of assurance such as professional services networks, legal firms, business ethics practitioners and others. Potential users of independent anti-bribery assurance such as companies, civil society and all other interested parties will also be part of the consultation.

The risks to business

More and more businesses of all sizes are seeking foreign markets, exposing themselves to a higher risk of bribery and corrupt practices. Transparency International's Bribe Payers Index 2006 (BPI) shows that bribery by companies among the world’s export giants remains common. The BPI looks at the propensity of companies from 30 leading exporting countries to bribe abroad. Companies from the wealthiest countries tend to rank in the top half of the Index, but data shows that they still routinely pay bribes, particularly in developing economies. Companies from emerging export powers such as India, China and Russia rank among the worst. In the case of China and other emerging export powers, efforts to strengthen domestic anti-corruption activities have failed to extend abroad. Click here to learn more.

Contact us

Secretariat: Business Principles for Countering Bribery

Susan Côté-Freeman
Email: scotefreeman@transparency.org

Peter Wilkinson
Email: businessprinciples@transparency.org

Business Principles - SME Edition
Email: SMEbusinessprinciples@transparency.org

Transparency International (TI)

Alt Moabit 96
10559 Berlin, Germany