On Leonardo da Vinci’s painting ‘The Last Supper’ from 1495 – 1498 we can see, among other things, Judas Iscariot squeeze the money bag with the thirty silver coins he had gotten for betraying Jesus. Judas thus became one of the first and most famous bribed persons in history, and the synonym for traitor.

Swedish newspapers have recently reported that eleven people at the Swedish National Debt Office have been reported to the police for bribery. They are suspected of having privately received tablets, game consoles and giftcards from a training company.

Corruption is at hand when a worker or contractor uses his or her position to achieve an advantage that benefits him or her or someone close, for example a relative.

For individuals, corruption can be a criminal offence and cause dismissal or termination of the individual’s employment. For companies, it can be a breach of the Swedish Marketing Act and, not least, cause great negative impact on the company’s brand and goodwill.

Compared to other countries, Sweden is considered to have a low level of corruption. But is the situation really that good, and what shall we compare it with? Every year, 100-150 cases are reported to the police and 20-30 persons are charged with bribery. In a recent study from EY, almost every fifth Swede employed in large enterprises state that corruption is common in Sweden.

Often, the distinction is difficult – when does a benefit become a bribe?

Example 1

A case from the public sector – a VIP package with hockey and buffet dinner to employees in the public sector. The Court stated that this was not a bribe to an employee that was not a Director and that had not worked with procurement. However, it was considered a bribe to an employee in a higher position that had worked with procurement, despite the fact that he would retire.

Example 2

A case from the private sector – a private company invited an employee from another private company to a hunting trip worth SEK 25 000. The Court found that it was bribery, since the invited employee worked with sourcing.

The Swedish Anti-Corruption Institute (IMM) is a non-profit organization that works to counteract the use of bribery and other illegal benefits. IMM manages among other things the so-called Swedish Business Code, which is a kind of code of conduct for companies. The Code should be seen as complementary to legislation – it supplements and clarifies the criminal provisions. Also, IMM has an Ethics Committee to which the business community can ask questions and get information about limits – for example, what are you allowed to offer at the Almedalen Week – breakfast, mingle or dinner?

At Berghco, we believe that every company should adopt a policy for bribery and corruption, where the company can provide guidelines for its employees, thresholds for gifts and marketing etc. It is also an important signal from the management.

We are happy to provide advice and education on preventive measures against bribery and corruption!

Bribery is not only a great risk to your brand – it can also result in the employees not making an effort to gain success through hard and serious work, which is just as harmful in the long run.

I hope that you are far from corruption in your company and wish you a nice summer!

Jonas