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The results of the AFA's diagnosis of French companies in terms of anti-corruption

As part of the multi-year national plan against corruption, the French Anti-Corruption Agency (AFA) instigated in February 2020 a diagnosis of the situation of French companies in the field of the fight against corruption. The diagnosis was carried out in the form of an anonymous questionnaire sent to companies through the professional federations.

In doing so, the AFA has addressed nearly two thousand companies of all sizes and from various sectors of activity. The AFA analyzed these companies by questioning them in particular about their knowledge of corruption, as well as the mechanisms they had the opportunity to put in place in this sector.

Half of the companies targeted by the diagnosis were thus companies subject to the obligations of Article 17 of the Sapin 2 law, that is to say companies with at least 500 employees or belonging to a group of companies whose parent company has its registered office in France and whose workforce includes at least 500 employees, and whose turnover or consolidated turnover exceeds EUR 100 million. The other half were mid-caps (intermediate-sized), small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

The AFA also insists that even a small company can suffer damaging consequences resulting from corruption, these consequences can be not only financial but also commercial and human.

Regarding companies' knowledge of corruption, reading the AFA analyisi shows that most of the companies surveyed consider themselves to be aware of the main concepts relating to corruption. In terms of responses, 94% of companies say they know the definition of corruption, 87% the difference between active and passive corruption, 85% embezzlement of public funds, 84% favoritism, 79% influence peddling and 78% illegal taking of interests. Only the notion of bribery is relatively unknown by the companies surveyed, since 43% say they know what this term refers to. As a reminder, the bribery consists for a person holding public authority or entrusted with a public service mission to receive a sum that he knows is not due, or exceed what is due (Criminal Code, article 432-10).

In addition, the report shows that companies believe that the risk of corruption is mainly concentrated in certain sectors. 92% of companies believe that the procurement sector presents a risk of corruption, compared to 42% for the legal sector.

However, the ADA still considers that anti-corruption measures are too deficient. Thus, although 70% of companies have implemented an anti-corruption system and 85% have adopted a code of conduct or a code of ethics, 48% have integrated a compliance officer, and 39% include a third-party evaluation procedure. The incompleteness of the anti-corruption system is even more obvious in small businesses than in supervised businesses.

However, 83% of companies with an anti-corruption system consider that their system is regularly updated, and this in a satisfactory manner.

The diagnosis also reveals the lack of sanctions. Indeed, although 22% of companies suffered situations related to corruption between 2015 and 2020, 51% of these companies initiated disciplinary proceedings. In addition, the AFA deplores the low rate of recourse to criminal complaints by companies subject to cases of corruption. The percentage of companies that have filed a criminal complaint in addition to their disciplinary sanction is thus only 20%. As for the deployment of anti-corruption measures, the use of disciplinary sanctions and criminal complaints is rarer in small companies than in companies subject to corruption.

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