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Attention to the importance of doing business without paying bribes has been far too limited in the telecoms sector.

The sector has previously had a relatively low profile in anti-corruption circles. In the last Bribe Payers Index published by Transparency International (here), telecoms ranked just outside the top ten sectors for business bribery (Public works, Utilities, Property and Oil & Gas were the worst-affected).

Anti-Corruption NGOs have paid some attention to the sector, with an overview of the corruption-related issues in the telecoms sector from the Norwegian organisation U4 in 2014 (here) and a survey of corporate reporting transparency by telecoms companies from Transparency International in 2015 (here). But civil society, especially in the developed nations that host these companies, is rarely more than an observer of industry structures and incentives that enable or encourage corruption. What action is being taken by organisations representing the telecoms business sector

FCPA Blog recently published a list of the ‘Top 40’, the forty companies paying the largest FCPA penalties of all time (here). If you look at the list of companies that have had to pay the largest FCPA fines, you will see that four of the top ten penalty-payers are telecom companies; Ericsson, Telia (both from Sweden), Mobile Tele Systems (Russia) and Vimpelcom (Netherlands). The four telecom companies paid a collective $3670 million for their resolutions with the US Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The cases examined covered a long time period – from 2016 back to 2000 and earlier.


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