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ISO 37001:2016- Investigating and dealing with bribery

As required by the Anti-Bribery Management System (ABMS) standard, investigating and dealing with bribery is a management responsibility which has a major impact on the credibility of senior management and the ABMS.

Based on our years of professional experience in conducting internal investigations, this article proposes a framework for managers faced with the decision of ordering and managing an internal investigation.

Is an investigation necessary?

First, senior management must determine whether an investigation is necessary. An internal investigation should generally be conducted when actual or credible allegations of bribery or violations to the ABMS are reported, detected or reasonably suspected. All complaints should be taken seriously, but there are circumstances when a full internal investigation is not warranted and a management review may be a better option.

In all instances, we strongly suggest conducting an initial assessment with the support of appropriate in-house or external counsel. The purpose of such an assessment is to gather information, assess the credibility of the source of the allegations, and determine whether the evidence is first hand or hearsay, along with the level of detail provided in the allegation.

Following the initial assessment, if doubt remains, remember that an internal investigation conducted in a professional manner can benefit the organization in many ways:

  • Determine and understand all the facts and the potential legal impact;
  • Assess the efficiency of its management systems and controls;
  • Prevent further violations;
  • Demonstrate strong leadership;
  • Minimize disruptive impact on the business and employee morale;
  • Promote the anti-bribery culture in the organization.

On the other hand, failure to investigate credible evidence of violation could expose senior management and the organization to allegations of cover-up and wrongdoing, which may result in negative press, followed by the suspension or loss of the organization’s accreditation, or worse, criminal charges or civil liability.

Who, when and how?

The next important step requiring decisions is planning the internal investigation.

  • Should outside counsel be part of the investigation team?


You will have the chance to read the full article in the upcoming issue of the PECB Insights Magazine. Stay tuned!



Serge Barbeau received a master’s degree in public administration from the National School of Public Administration (1992). He also completed studies in communications, labor relations, crisis management, project management and organizational development. He is a Certified Protection Professional (CPP) from the American Society for Industrial Security (ASIS), a Certified Professional in Critical Infrastructure Protection (PCIP) from the Critical Infrastructure Institute of Canada, and a Certified Port facility security officer (PFSO). Mr. Barbeau was also trained in predictive profiling and is fluently bilingual (French—English).


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