Conflicts of interest are unavoidable. There is no company that is clean from conflict of interests. The important thing is whether the conflicts are identified and dealt with. Laurence Glynn
On the 22nd of July, Ethicontrol's team attended another event organized by our partner network UNIC: Identifying and regulating conflicts of interest. Both international and Ukrainian experts shared their professional experience in dealing with conflicts of interest.
What did we hear from the experts in the industry, and what are the challenges of today?
⭐ Laurence Glynn (Associate Director, Policy and Ethics Office of the CCO at the EBRD):
Listed and unlisted companies have a common problem — it is how they deal with assets. Regulators often face the problem of unlawful distribution of dividends, regardless of the nature of the company. This problem has to be addressed for both governmental and private companies, which often have insufficient controls in place.
State-owned enterprises also have issues with conflict of interest - it is vital for them to have a clearly defined code of ethics and separate state ownership from government functions. All sectors eventually are regulated with additional legislation specific for the industry - special attention should be given to these laws and their development.
⭐ Silviu Popa - Secretary-General of the Romanian Integrity Agency
There is another area where we can prevent conflict of interest - public procurements, which are essential for the public sector and the private environment.
The concept of public procurement concept can be explained through the analogy of the Asteroid belt. Public Procurement is the same as the planets being hit by asteroids. It is the duty of the government to protect procurements - however, 50% of the EU companies still think corruption is a widespread problem in PP.
For Romania, it worked successfully when the Romanian Integrity Agency developed the automatic system which checks the potential conflicts of interests by checking the databases and performing cross-checks, issuing integrity warnings and sending them to investigators. The Romanian system works as a preventative mechanism. As a result, the agency discovered 136 conflicts worth a quarter of a billion euros. The percentage of conflicts of interest dropped by 50% in 2 years since the implementation.
Cases and conflicts of interest in Ukraine
⭐ Anton Marchuk, an expert at Anti-Corruption Action Center
Ukrainian legislation is in line with international standards, but some things are challenging to implement. Ten years is not enough to change the system completely. The big problem is that we see different definitions of conflict of interest in different industries. And we still see how complex is the implementation in state-owned enterprises. The present conflict of interest and the perceived conflict are different things, and the second is not considered in Ukraine yet.
⭐ Nataliia Kolomiiets, Head of Legal and Compliance, METRO Cash and Carry Ukraine: The riskiest areas in the company are staff management and relations with partners. As a part of its compliance strategy, METRO prioritized relations with its employees and developed speak-up tools for them - a dedicated chat-bot.
We think that it's crucial for the company to have a healthy corporate culture. When it's allowed to speak up, the conflicts of interest are resolved within the organization, and it always stays informed. The company has to inform and educate the employees so they could make a difference in corporate culture.
We are looking forward to meeting more professional and gathering the knowledge from people, who are passionate for compliance!