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The true cost of corruption

One of the most serious risks we face as a global business is corruption. Many of Maersk's operations are in countries where corruption is a widespread risk, despite it being illegal.

As regulators toughen up, so too do our customers. To win business we must be able to demonstrate our compliance with all relevant anti-corruption laws.

The consequences [of not doing so] can be devastating. Corruption erodes the trust necessary to create stable economic growth. It increases the cost of doing business, eliminates the level playing field and for us poses severe legal and reputational risks.

nils s andersen maersk group ceoAlthough first presented on paper in 2003, the five Maersk Group core values - constant care, humbleness, uprightness, our employees, our name - have been a part of the business for more than 110 years.

The group has a zero-tolerance policy towards bribery. We have trained thousands of colleagues globally through our anti-corruption programme, and are leading the way on efforts such as the Maritime Anti-Corruption Network.

Our employees are showing determination in stamping out facilitation payments – an all-too-pervasive practice in the shipping industry. In the story 'when zero means zero', Maersk Line captains explain how they were able to refuse demands for facilitation payments. I hope their success inspires others to take their lead and eventually we can eliminate this damaging practice altogether.

Globally, scrutiny from governments on how we conduct our business is increasing as countries introduce tough new anti-corruption laws – Brazil and China being two recent examples.

As regulators toughen up, so too do our customers. To win business we must be able to demonstrate our compliance with all relevant anti-corruption laws.

Breaking anti-corruption laws can trigger multi-million-dollar penalties. Yet while the financial costs would be staggering, they do not reflect the true cost of corruption to the Group.

This would be the irreparable damage done to our name – one of the group's core values – which as Ane Mærsk Mc-Kinney Uggla, daughter of Mærsk Mc-Kinney Møller, reminds us, have been embedded in our company since its foundation and must be carried forward by us today.

The commitment to our values means that for us, business is not all about money. It's also about maintaining high ethical standards. It's about being upright in our actions so we can be proud of the work we do. And it means taking a stand against corruption, whatever the circumstances and wherever we are in world.

- Nils Smedegaard Andersen is CEO of the Maersk Group.

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