On November 16, Transparency International Mongolia and the British Embassy organized the roundtable discussion “Business Integrity and Its Value”.

The roundtable was attended by representatives from notable Mongolian businesses and enterprises. The keynote speaker was Dr. Mark Lovatt, CEO of Trident Integrity. Dr. Lovatt spoke to the attendees about his experience in business integrity and the impact of corruption. Prior to leading Trident Integrity, Dr. Lovatt was the Business Integrity Program Manager at Transparency International Malaysia. In his presentation, he reported that overall, corruption reduces efficiency and increases inequality. Estimates show that the cost of corruption around the world equals more than five percent of global GDP, 2.6 trillion USD according to the World Economic Forum, with over one trillion USD paid in bribes each year according to World Bank. The economic cost of corruption, the risk of prosecution, and the risk of damage to a company’s reputation were noted as the three main negative impacts corruption can have on a business.

Going into detail about the setbacks that a business can face, Dr. Lovatt spoke about legal penalties and damaged reputations. The UK Bribery Act of 2010 and the United State’s Foreign Corrupt Practices Act were both mentioned in his presentation as far reaching legislative acts that can dole out large fines or administrative action. Dr. Lovatt’s brought up these legislations to tell cautionary tales of large corporations being embroiled in far-reaching corruption scandals. He stressed that business integrity is becoming one of the most important factors that foreign companies consider when looking for partners in countries such as Mongolia. He emphasized, “The internet never forgets,” reminding his audience that corruption scandals can have irreversible consequences for businesses.

The remainder of Dr. Lovatt’s presentation was on ways to accredit a company’s anti-corruption policies. These included the newly created ISO 37001 anti-bribery management systems standard, and the use of auditing as a way to prove the integrity of an enterprise.

The event’s roundtable discussion gave attendees the chance to raise points and ask questions. CEO of Tenger Insurance LLC Oybek N. Khalilov was vocal with his concerns about the expense of financing audits and implementing international standards such as the ISO 37001. The Compliance Officer of Oyu Tolgoi, S.Gerelmaa, highlighted the policies that OT has in place concerning corruption and bribery. She gave details about the whistleblowing mechanism in place in order to prevent corruption and to protect the integrity and reputation of OT. The Corporate Relations Manager of the Corporate Governance Development Center, B.Jargalan, reported on the ways that their organization has been contributing to a decrease in corruption. She highlighted the organization’s Annual Reporting Award, which is given annually to 20 businesses making strides in corporate governance reporting.

During the roundtable discussion and in their closing remarks, representatives from Transparency International Mongolia highlighted how the government has implemented an anti-corruption action plan for the first time since 2010. Transparency International Mongolia documented all the obstacles and issues that attendees raised during the roundtable and said that they will use the information to improve their efforts to eliminate corruption in Mongolia.