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2024 Latin America Corruption Survey: corporate compliance is helping combat illicit activities, but skepticism over anti-corruption laws persists

Marina Vanni

The 2024 Latin America Corruption Survey, conducted by Miller & Chevallier alongside leading law firms, reveals persistent corruption in the region. The report, published last week, spans various industries and roles, gathering insights from over 1,000 professionals across the region and the US and building on knowledge from previous surveys.

Corporate compliance emerges as the primary approach to combat corruption, with increasing adoption of nuanced strategies. 8 out of 10 respondents said their companies’ have advanced in taking measures to prevent corruption risks.

Besides basic compliance programs, a new trend has surged: "A significant percentage of respondents now report that their companies have procedures for charitable and community donations, political contributions, and facilitating payments, as well as third-party due diligence policies, anonymous reporting, mechanisms, full-time compliance personnel, anti-corruption audits and assessments, and M&A due diligence," the report reveals.

Despite awareness of corruption prosecutions, there is skepticism about the effectiveness of local anti-corruption laws, as only 40% of participants say laws are effective to a moderate or significant extent.

The survey showed that almost half of the respondents believe corruption "is a significant obstacle to doing business". 41% of participants "believe their companies have lost business to competitors that make illicit payments", although this percentage has been decreasing over the years. Political parties and governments, on the other hand, remain seen as significantly corrupt.

"When considering government dispute resolution and prosecutorial mechanisms, 49% of respondents perceive significant corruption in the judiciary and 41% say as much for prosecution services or investigator", adds the report. Nevertheless, there is a greater regionwide awareness of prosecutions.

In terms of legislation, 27% of participants say "the FCPA or other anti-corruption laws significantly mitigate corruption risk". The report states: "(…) in only two of eight countries that have strengthened their laws (Colombia and Chile) do we see a positive change in perceptions of effectiveness of anti-corruption laws, and only Chile seems to have established a credible legal and enforcement regime."

Venezuela, Nicaragua, and Bolivia were mentioned as the most corrupt countries for doing business, whereas the United States, Uruguay, and Chile were highlighted as the least corrupt.

Notably, participation from professionals in El Salvador and Nicaragua was extremely low, a situation which suggests that endemic corruption and intimidation against critics may deter engagement in the report.

Author: Marina Vanni

Read the full survey here

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