In late 2006, the German engineering giant Siemens, one of world’s largest companies, was engulfed in a corruption scandal.
After management changes at the company, Peter Loscher, board member of Siemens, made tackling corruption a top priority for the company, introducing a $100 million initiative called Collective Action.
“What it means is that we cooperate with our customers, with our competitors, with our suppliers, depending on the market place and the challenges, to make sure that corruption is impossible” Loscher told CNBC.
“What we’ve learned (is) you can do great business all over the world by staying clean” Loscher said, adding, “we’ve reported the best financial numbers ever, we’ve been incredibly successful over the last three years.”
According to a poll by Transparency International, a leading non-governmental anti-corruption organization, three years of the financial crisis has made the world a more corrupt place.
Afghanistan, Nigeria and India rank in the most corrupt category, with China, Russia and parts of Middle East not far behind.
“In developing countries, responsible politicians are beginning to realize that they’re never going to develop, they’re not going to encourage foreign investments … if all the money ends up in bank accounts in Switzerland,” Loscher said.
“Increasingly we see in difficult countries that there are a lot of good people working very hard to stamp out the corruption.” Loscher added that if the competition moves in the same direction, it makes business practice easier.
“We’re a cartel of good. If we agree what business practices ought to be and we help each other ...There can be no corruption,” Loscher said, referring to practices to combat bribery and corruption in the corporate world shared by Siemens, CNBC-partent General Electric, ABB, Austin and Bombardier among others.
“Clean business is good business and that’s what we’ve proved to the doubters out there,” Loscher said.