Keeping Up a Corruption-Free Reputation

Keeping Up a Corruption-Free Reputation

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February 18, 2016

spotlight Compliance Champion Spotlight

What is a Compliance Champion? A Compliance Champion is an individual or organization committed to fostering and raising the standards of anti-bribery compliance. TRACE Trends will include posts featuring Compliance Champions from time to time.

We hope you enjoy the following entry from this week’s Compliance Champion, and TRACE Partner Law Firm!

Today’s guest blog post is written by Mr. Anders Worsøe, attorney-at-law and Partner at Magnusson Law Firm, TRACE’s Partner Law Firm in Denmark. Anders provides daily support and advice to both domestic and foreign multinational corporations on compliance issues.  Anders utilizes his firsthand experience as an attorney as well as a board member for multinationals facing compliance challenges in their Danish operations.


 As a European Union (“EU”) member state, a major part of the anti-corruption legislation in Denmark stems from the EU.  However, especially following the “Oil–for-Food” scandals in the 90’s, where corruption and abuse of the UN’s infamous program soared, Denmark, independently, has become more aware of and determined to strike down corruption.  As result, Denmark ranks among countries with low corruption risks, 1st out of 167 countries in Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index 2015 and 21st out of 197 countries in TRACE International’s TRACE Matrix.  However, despite the country’s corruption-free reputation, Denmark still faces corruption challenges, especially in its public sector.  

One only need look to the recent Atea Denmark case for an example.  In 2015, Danish police began a corruption probe into Atea Denmark, alleging that former Atea Denmark employees had bribed public officials in order to secure lucrative contracts and advantages over an eight year period. 

The Atea case should not come as a surprise to those familiar with the Danish public sector.  Given Denmark’s smaller size and population, the risk of nepotism within its public bodies, commissions, and state-owned enterprises is relatively high.  Additionally, due to a lack of transparency in the selection process for public appointments, a majority of the appointments are determined by the candidates’ political relations and affiliations rather than their merit-based qualifications.  Although some may not view this as falling within the classic definition of corruption, such appointments often lead to an environment where corruption and misuse of public funds flourish, and where cases like Atea occur.

Finally, it is suspected that not all Danish corporations fully grasp the ramifications of violating the bribery provisions of the Danish Criminal Code, the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act or the U.K. Bribery Act.  Despite the publicity in Denmark around the Oil-for-Food scandals, where Danish corporations were investigated for bribing Iraqi officials, Danish corporations continue to get caught-up in global corruption scandals as result of their failure to maintain anti-corruption standards in their operations abroad that are equally as strict as the standards they maintain at home. 

Although Denmark must be celebrated for its success in its anti-corruption efforts, its efforts are far from complete. 

For more on this topic, please see the following resources:

TRACE Compendium - Danish Oil-for-Food Actions
TRACE Compendium – ATEA ASA
TI - Denmark, Least Corrupt Country in the World 
OECD - Denmark must investigate foreign bribery more proactively

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