More than a third of people working in legal or compliance departments have felt under pressure to approve the engagement of a third party despite bribery and corruption ‘red flags’, an anonymous survey of employees has found.

According to the 2018 Global White Collar Crime Survey published today, the findings of the 40% of employees who reported such pressure, 5% said they always felt it, 14% said they often felt it and 21% said sometimes.

On top of this, almost half of workers (48%) believe that people who pay bribes on behalf of their company are rewarded internally or personally while nearly a third (29%) are unaware of whether their place of work has any anti-bribery and corruption (ABC) measures in place.

The findings appear in the 2018 Global White Collar Crime Survey, prepared by international firm White & Case with the University of Manchester. It surveyed 252 respondents from various industry sectors.

A report on the survey said: ‘It certainly appears that in some quarters when a deal or other initiative is potentially placed in jeopardy because of ABC issues, the ethical commitment otherwise shown by senior management can become somewhat diluted – with the deal taking priority over compliance objectives,’ the report said.

Jonathan Pickworth, partner at White & Case, said taking a closer look at how employees in high-risk positions and jurisdictions are incentivised, and how their success and performance is measured, is key.

‘The consequences of bribery and corruption are severe, and law enforcement agencies’ powers to investigate and prosecute have grown substantially over the last few years. Employers need to make sure their staff are aware of the legal implications, and severity of penalties,’ he added.

The majority of employees (88%) said they would be inclined to raise any potential issues internally, rather than externally. However, only 3% said they would make use of a whistleblowing hotline, and only 2% would go to a regulator or authority.