Corruption in focus at FXM seminar

2013-11-05

Together with Transparency International, Folk och Försvar (Society and Defence) and the Swedish Security and Defence Industry Association (SOFF), the Swedish Defence and Security Export Agency (FXM) organised a seminar on the risks of corruption in the defence industry.An audience of about 100 was in place at Folk och Försvar’s headquarters in the old city in Stockholm.

In recent years, the Transparency International global network has produced several analyses regarding corruption and transparency in the defence sector. These studies have included a focus on the anti-corruption programmes of the world’s largest defence equipment manufacturers. The aim of these analyses is to provide governments, defence forces, companies and civil society with tools for avoiding the risks and inefficiency caused by corruption in the defence sector. Mark Pyman from Transparency International described the contents of the Defence Companies Anti-Corruption Index 2012 – where processes and systems for avoiding corruption are assessed. After these assessments, companies are classified into A to F categories.  Sixty-eight per cent of the companies assessed were in the D to F categories, which means not up to standard.

“A surprisingly large number of companies in the western world were found in these groups,” said Mark Pyman.

He gave some tips on how companies should work with corruption, stating, among other things, how important it is for the highest executives of companies to show emphatically that zero tolerance against corruption applies.

Mark Pyman from Transparency International was one of the speakers. Picture: FXM

Mark Pyman from Transparency International was one of the speakers. Picture: FXM

The companies assessed included Saab and BAE Hägglunds. Both of these had relatively low measurements in category B. These two companies had representatives in place at the seminar, who emphasised the importance of their anti-corruption efforts and described how they work with these issues.

FXM Director-General Ulf Hammarström took part in a panel discussion together with the Acting Secretary-General of the Swedish Security and Defence Industry Association, Niklas Alm, and the Defence Materiel Administration’s Chief Legal Officer, Anders Sjöberg. Ulf Hammarström considered that the industry takes corruption seriously. He pointed out that the three watchwords, ethical, trustworthy and forward-looking, are important at FXM and that the agency is working to keep them alive.

“I believe that we should make anti-corruption efforts a Swedish profile issue. To make Sweden’s brand stand for incorruptible. One means of protection against corruption is actually having a brand where one is perceived as being transparent and impossible to bribe.  The cleaner the competition, the better it is for a country that manufactures high-tech, cost-efficient quality products in the way that Sweden does,” said Ulf Hammarström.

The panel agreed that anti-corruption issues and discussions on ethics must be kept alive. The nature of the market, involving very large business contracts that are often subject to secrecy for defence reasons, enhances the risks. There is legislation to prevent illegality, but it is more difficult to combat unethical deals and grey areas, and guidance is needed on this. The Chief Legal Officer at the Defence Materiel Administration, Anders Sjöberg, stated that it is in small working groups working for long periods with the same supplier that the risk of corruption emerges. This risk is reduced by ensuring job rotation, openness and transparency.

Lena Bartholdsson from Folk och Försvar was the seminar’s moderator. Picture: FXM

Lena Bartholdsson from Folk och Försvar was the seminar’s moderator. Picture: FXM

In the concluding panel discussion, political reflections were aired. Göran Lennmarker (Moderate Party) and Torbjörn Björlund (Left Party), both members of the Export Control Council, emphasised the significance of the seminar and pointed to the importance of rules for transparency. There was also a discussion about the agency that should monitor possible corruption within the Swedish defence industry and on whether Swedish legislation is sufficiently stringent.

The commitment of those taking part and the fact that the hall in which the seminar was held was full testify to the importance of, and interest in these issues. The discussion about how we can become even better at working to combat corruption is likely to continue.

You can watch the whole seminar on Folk och Försvar’s website (in Swedish).