Survey reveals widespread failure of international companies to keep pace with anti-corruption legislation and manage the complexity of investigations

12 Sep, 2013

A global survey of more than 300 senior in-house lawyers at some of the world’s largest companies, conducted for Control Risks by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), has exposed worrying gaps in the way organisations prepare for a violation of anti-bribery laws. The survey findings showed heightened concerns over the increasing complexity of corruption investigations, and the growing challenge of international data retrieval and transfer.


The survey made clear that senior in-house lawyers are increasingly concerned about their company being the subject of an investigation and their internal capacity to handle it. 44% of respondents thought an anti-corruption investigation into their company was either possible or likely in the next two years; this increased to 50% for US companies.


Commenting on the results of the survey, Mike Brown, EMEA Director for eDiscovery services at Control Risks, said: “The issue of data protection and data privacy legislation, and the increasing reach and frequency of investigations is leaving companies exposed. The results of the survey reaffirm that there is no scope for complacency – there is an absolute need for preparedness through effective compliance programmes and constant vigilance.”


For all companies, anti-corruption regulation is becoming more complex and the powers of investigatory agencies continue to grow. Against this backdrop, 54% of respondents think the greatest challenge they face is dealing with the requirements of local law enforcement authorities and dealing with local data protection laws. 27% of senior in-house lawyers perceive their greatest challenge as ensuring the security of such data while it moves between jurisdictions.


The technical expertise required to manage these issues effectively is significant. There are growing legal challenges, which need to be managed alongside the increasingly complex management of company data. 67% of respondents say that it would be vital to seek external legal counsel when conducting an investigation. 27% of those surveyed would retain specialist legal technology experts should an investigation be required.


The survey asked in-house lawyers for their views on future trends in reducing data risk. 66% saw further increases in data protection laws as continuing to strain their internal resources. Continuing expansion of the requirement to move data across borders for investigations was foreseen by 65% of respondents. 56% expected the challenges of data collection itself to be the primary risk. 

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