“Corruption undermines human development. It diverts public resources away from the provision of essential services. It increases inequality and hinders national and local economic development by distorting markets for goods and services. It corrodes rule of law and destroys public trust in governments and leaders.”
Fraud and corruption are substantial global issues with enormous financial and economic costs i.e. US$1 trillion are paid in bribes per year (The World Bank Institute) and there were US$1.8 trillion in illicit financial flows from Africa between 1970 and 2008 (Global Financial Integrity, 2010).
Anti-corruption is therefore one of four cross-cutting priorities in Norwegian Development Assistance. Furthermore, target 16.5 under the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is to substantially reduce corruption and bribery in all their forms by 2030. Norfund has zero-tolerance for corruption which is integrated in all levels and activities – from project assessments, internal policies and systems, investment monitoring and reporting.
are paid in bribes every year
in illicit financial flows from Africa between 1970 and 2008
Through Business Support Norfund has supported numerous initiatives aiming at awareness and competence building and improving information systems in our investees. At the end of 2018 Norfund took this one step further and, together with Hibis AS, developed the concept of a Business Integrity Assessment as additional offer to some of Norfund’s portfolio companies.
Hibis is an advisory organization that aims to significantly raise awareness of fraud and corruption. They use innovative tools and techniques and work together with the company to identify, investigate and interpret red flags of potential malpractice at an early stage. Then they analyse the possible root causes, suggest mitigating actions and follow-up activities which contribute to the internal competence building on how to tackle these red flags. Based on a successful piloting phase in 2019, the collaboration between Hibis and Norfund will be extended in the coming years. The intention is to be able to apply Hibis’s early detection methodology to assess a few selected portfolio companies’ specific weaknesses and exposure to the risk of fraud and corruption, identify weaknesses and warning signs of improper business behavior, and suggest mitigation action based on the findings.
“The Mission of Hibis has always been effective prevention of fraud and corruption, early detection, and constructive and cost-efficient investigation when and where needed. We believe in the need to raise awareness and provide skills to recognize the fundamental difference between genuine mistake, malpractice, and fraudulent behavior. By sharing our experience and knowledge, Hibis’ role is to assist with guidance and support those people who wish to take a stand against fraud and build a strong and viable anti-corruption culture”Hibis.com
The pilot phase of the project together with Hibis was successfully concluded in 2019. The two portfolio companies that participated in the pilot reported that the assessment gave them clear indications on how to improve their corporate governance in practice, hereunder strengthen their business integrity and anti-corruption strategy. The approach helped the companies identify weakness and loopholes in their systems, processes and routines both internally and towards external shareholders.
The results of the pilot gave also useful feedback to Norfund’s project managers, enabling them to monitor the results with concrete follow-up activities. The aim for the coming years is therefore to increase the amount of portfolio companies undergoing the Business Integrity Assessment, and for Norfund to ensure Business Integrity remains a focus for the Business Support.
Hibis AS’s intervention will be one of several offers and tools which Norfund’s Business Support intends to develop to support its work with Business Integrity in the coming years.