Rail transportation giant Alstom recently became the first French company to obtain ISO 37001 certification for its anti-bribery management systems. According to a press release from the company, the certification was obtained through AFNOR Certification, following a three-month audit period that reviewed Alstom’s anti-bribery efforts at seven sites in France and elsewhere in Europe. This is the first AFAQ ISO 37001 certification awarded. AFNOR is the national standards body in France.
With the completion of their certification process, Alstom joins companies in Italy (ENI and Terna) and the United Arab Emirates (Bosch Middle East) that have been ISO 37001 certified. Wal-Mart and Microsoft also announced their intention to obtain certification.
ISO 37001, which was issued in October 2016 by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), outlines best practices for anti-bribery management and helps organizations implement and maintain systems to prevent, detect, and address incidents of bribery. The standard is specifically focused on bribery and does not address fraud, money-laundering, or other corrupt practices. Drafted by a committee of academic, government, and industry experts from 56 countries and seven liaison organizations, this standard is intended for application across all industries and geographies.
Organizations can choose to be certified with this standard, either through the certification arm of their own national standardization organization, as was the case in France, or through accredited independent certification bodies. Although certification does not provide “safe harbor” legal protection for companies who are involved in corruption probes, prosecuting bodies may look at certification as evidence that a company performed necessary steps to prevent incidents from occurring. Certification also may give firms a competitive advantage, as the new standard for anti-bribery management systems becomes the norm.
Alstom’s certification process began just two years after the company resolved a massive bribery scandal which resulted in the largest criminal fine ever levied for FCPA offenses. According to the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), the scandal involved bribery of officials in Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Taiwan, and the Bahamas in order to secure $4 billion in overseas projects. The DOJ charged the company with violating the FCPA by falsifying records and failing to implement adequate controls to prevent bribery, leading to a fine of over $772 million.
Alstom’s certification in ISO 37001 demonstrates a renewed commitment to fight corruption and pursue best practices for anti-bribery compliance. The AFNOR Certification highlighted certain strong points of Alstom’s management systems, including the dedication of company management to implementing ethical practices, procedures at the purchasing level that were well-adapted for their level of risk, and a wide network of compliance employees spread across all Alstom sites.
According to the press release, further audits of the company’s anti-bribery management system will be performed every year to ensure the durability of their program. Alstom also plans to pursue audits and certification for the company’s overseas units, stating in the press release that this first certification only marks the start of a larger certification campaign.