Maritime Anti-Corruption Network (MCAN) program director Cecilia Müller-Torbrand discusses her organisation’s role in combating endemic bribery in tanker shipping
When companies join forces to share knowledge and best practices and work to increase engagement from governments and civil society, they are much better able to battle challenges to systemic integrity. In fact, a sustainable anti-corruption programme requires that all stakeholders buy in to the process.
MACN and its members work towards the elimination of all forms of maritime corruption by raising awareness of the challenges; implementing the MACN Anti-Corruption Principles and co-developing and sharing best practices; collaborating with governments, non-governmental organisations, and civil society to identify and mitigate the root causes of corruption.
The organisation uses three objectives to achieve its goals: capability building; collective action; and creating a culture of integrity.
Working to create a culture of integrity is not just aimed at generating change for specific stakeholders (eg captains or port authorities) in specific corruption hot-spots, but to drive fundamental change in deep-seated attitudes regarding corruption.
The MACN programme in Argentina is an example of what can be achieved when all of these steps are executed effectively. Like other areas where ships are frequently in and out of ports, loose interpretation of the responsibilities of local officials in Argentina created a grey area, offering opportunities for bribery and creating a barrier to trade.
MACN used its members’ reports and its database to identify a specific structural issue – centred around dry bulk carrier and tanker hold inspections – and how the issue facilitated bribes via head office functions.
Working with local partner Governance Latam, MACN was able to develop a new regulatory framework with the National Service of Health and Agri-Food Quality (Senasa), a new IT system for processing and registering hold/tank inspections, an accountable vessel clearance system and high-level government support.
These developments are part of the collective action project MACN created to support reforms initiated by Senasa, other local stakeholders, and the broader shipping community in Argentina in 2014. Through MACN, members are provided with a toolkit of operating practices to reduce the prevalence of corruption. Corruption incidents in Argentina where MACN has engaged in collective action have decreased by more than 90%.
Collective action is an essential tool to help the private sector take steps to tackle corruption. Anti-bribery programmes start at boardroom level, with visible and explicit support including policies, monitoring practices and disciplinary procedures. And those reporting corruption need to be able to do so without fear of retribution.
What has been achieved in Argentina, with MACN’s help, can be achieved elsewhere.
The Maritime Anti-Corruption Network (MACN) is a global business network working towards the vision of a maritime industry free of corruption. Members of the MACN network include AET, Ardmore Shipping, BP Shipping, BSM, Frontline, Hafnia Tankers, and other well-known tanker owners, shipmanagers and operators.