Corruption in the shipping industry is a problem and has been a problem for some time. What’s changed is the legislative environment and the potential for prosecution. What’s changed is the stance taken by bigger companies, subject to, and increasingly aware of their obligations under, this new legislation.
One of the ways of tackling corruption, obviously, is awareness, so the players - the people who might be paying the bribes - in this case, need to understand what the risks are, but they also need to engage with a broader set of players in this, who might have some standing here.
Collective Action is different stakeholders getting together to address a common problem, so, in the case of the shipping industry, it would be shipping companies by all means, large shipping companies and small shipping companies, but they might be engaging also with civil society who are in a position to influence the government officials and, more particularly, senior government officials who might be able to affect behaviour. And also governments, I think governments have a role, so that would be the UK Government or the French Government and their interactions with the local government in question. So, it’s all the various different stakeholders combining to identify problems, secure the relevant data and then seeing whether they can, together, come up with a collective solution.
There is a Collective Action initiative which is picking up some momentum and that’s the Maritime Anti-Corruption Network; that’s a group of shipping companies who are engaged in looking at common issues and, I suppose, ways of addressing those problems. One of the ways of dealing with Collective Action is effectively getting the data which then can inform how to address issues. For instance, I’m aware in relation to Nigeria, they’ve been looking at specific ports and identifying where there are difficulties and then looking for solutions to address those issues.
The benefit of Collective Action is momentum. I think if you’re a small company there’s lots to be said for allying with a large company. If you’re a company, whether you’re large or small, I think the Government is interested in engaging with those companies in order to address the issue. I know that the UK Government, for instance, has recently issued an Anti-Corruption Plan and Collective Action forms part of that plan. I’m aware that the UK Government is looking at developing toolkits, together with industry, whether it be shipping or other players, to look at ways and means of helping businesses in difficult jurisdictions, to address those common problems.