Early exposure fosters anti-corruption mentality

On International Anti-Corruption Day and every other day, Maersk stands up against corruption. New initiatives across the business are helping to nurture a collaborative anti-corruption mindset that employees carry with them throughout their careers.

UN Logo Fight against corruption

UN's International Anti-Corruption Day

  • Saturday 9 December is the International Anti-Corruption Day, a global campaign organised by UNODC and UNDP.
  • This year's theme is "United against corruption for development, peace and security", focusing on how corruption affects education, health, justice, democracy, prosperity and development.
  • Join the conversation at #UnitedAgainstCorruption.

“As our vessel went through the Suez Canal, pilots would refuse to support the Captain and even harass him during the entire passage, yelling and distracting operations.” 

Claudia Bech, a former Maersk Line graduate, recalls some of her experiences in Ship Management. In her first position in 2015, she was responsible for carrying out anti-corruptions initiatives in operations. The problems were very real, but a focused anti-corruption effort based on data tracking and structured communication between captains eventually proved pivotal in eliminating facilitation payments in the Suez within a year.

Today Claudia Bech works as a Marine 24/7 Manager handling marine execution for all vessels calling the America's. 

"Honestly, I am happy to say that we haven't seen any cases for a long time now. But it's not easy. Captains are still fighting and we need a continuous focus on this," she says.

The corruption challenge

Every year USD 1 trillion is paid in bribes while an estimated 2.6 trillion are stolen annually through corruption -a sum equivalent to more than 5% of the global GDP, according to the United Nations. As a response, the UN's global campaign International Anti-Corruption Day each year zooms in on the societal impact of corruption and how to fight it.

Honestly, I am happy to say that we haven't seen any cases for a long time now. But it's not easy. Captains are still fighting and we need a continuous focus on this.

Claudia Bech Maersk

Claudia Bech

This year the campaign rolls out on December 9 and while the annual event represents a recurring opportunity to discuss solutions, corruption continues to be an everyday challenge in shipping, most often in the shape of improper demands and extortion.

Also at A.P. Moller - Maersk where anti-corruption efforts remain a business-critical part of the agenda. Across the organisation, Maersk has initiated several initiatives, such as compliance programmes, strategies to eliminate facilitation payments and a whistleblower system.

"We're making good progress on tackling corruption and we can be proud of how we're building a culture of integrity together. However, Maersk is still exposed to corruption risks, and the fight is not over. We need to see more collaboration across our industry and with governments to mitigate the risks," says Kristin Berglund, Head of Anti-Corruption.

Kristin Berglund, Head of Anti-Corruption.

APM Terminals' Business Compliance Ambassadors

Nomination of a Business Compliance Ambassador (BCA) is a mitigating measure for areas of the business that have a high-risk corruption exposure.

Working as a BCA involves:

  • Being a trusted advisor and first point of contact on the ground to respond to routine queries and to alert the Compliance Department if a problem needs to be escalated.
  • Partnering with the management team and the compliance department on the implementation of Corporate Compliance initiatives and programmes.
  • Having monthly meetings with MD/GM to discuss upcoming compliance initiatives.
  • Encouraging employees to speak up about compliance issues and concerns.
  • Aiding the Compliance Department in the development of new training and communication.
  • Overcoming language barriers, if applicable, between the local team and the Compliance Department.

The BCA is not an "investigator" responsible for monitoring and does not report to Compliance.

Maersk is also taking responsibility on behalf of the industry. In 2011, Maersk Line took the first steps to initiate the Maritime Anti-Corruption Network, which today consists of more than 90 members from the maritime sector. More recently, an anti-corruption course was launched together with the World Maritime University in Malmö, Sweden.

Boosting efforts in high-risk areas

For the first time earlier this year, APM Terminals launched a global initiative to nominate Business Compliance Ambassadors (BCA) to strengthen the integration of compliance measures into areas of operations that have a high-risk exposure to corruption.

Pradeep Raman works at the frontline in Chennai, India, as Commercial Head of CFS Chennai, APM Terminals Inland Services in South Asia, where one of the main challenges is facing bribe attempts at customs. Since June this year, he has taken on the responsibility as the regional BCA, bridging the gap between management and the business to help solve day-to-day issues and overcome language barriers.

"Doing business in India is very much about "the local way", but we want all parties to live up to Maersk's ways of working. It's not easy, because being compliant often means asking more of your business partners, and some customers question why we're acting different than the rest of the market," says Pradeep Raman.

A better tomorrow

After the initial training in June, Pradeep Raman has supported management on compliance tasks through weekly calls, while also sharing his local insights in monthly calls with the global network of BCAs from each region. 

He recalls how the escalation of a recent incident, where a global customer was asked to pay a fee by a local customs officer, demanded close collaboration with the customer and its logistics provider. Ultimately, the officer was replaced. 

The example works as a proper reminder of how being a part of the programme has taught Pradeep Raman why it's so important to stand united against corruption.

"I've learnt that it might be difficult today, but by insisting on the highest standards, we're working for a better tomorrow. Part of my job is to help customers understand the bigger picture, too, and that they will be happier and safer working with us in the long run."

I've learnt that it might be difficult today, but by insisting on the highest standards, we're working for a better tomorrow. 

Pradeep Raman Maersk

Pradeep Raman, Commercial Head of CFS Chennai, APM Terminals Inland Services in South Asia

Pradeep Raman has worked for APM Terminals since 2012, and he believes that the anti-corruption mindset will stay with him throughout his career.

"It's like a mantra now. It feels very satisfying to connect across the business and promote high ethical standards. It's something we learn as kids, and I will carry it with me in the rest of my professional life."

Employees take on the BCA responsibilities for two years as an addition to their existing role.

Early exposure a platform for future decisions

Claudia Bech also feels that her time as a graduate, facing corruption and working with anti-corruption measures from the very beginning of her Maersk career, has given her valuable insights on how to tackle corruption hands-on through collaboration.

"When I first got my objectives on anti-corruption, it was overwhelming and felt like my job was to save the world and create peace. But little by little, it turned out to be not just possible, but exceeding my expectations due to great collaboration from sea to shore."

“From my experience, having our new graduates tackle the challenges that we are facing globally on corruption and day to day communication with our seafarer,  is providing an important platform for future decision making in line with our values.”