Speaking at the International Parcel Tanker Conference Maritime Anti-Corruption Network (MACN) program director Cecilia Müller-Torbrand discussed the organisation’s role in combating endemic bribery in shipping
Collective action is an important tool to help the private sector take steps to tackle corruption. Tackling systemic integrity challenges requires collective action, with companies joining forces and sharing information and approaches, but also engaging governments and civil society. For a sustainable anti-corruption programme, all stakeholders need to buy in to the process.
The programme of anti-bribery starts at boardroom level with visible and explicit support, this includes having policies, monitoring and discipline in place. Those reporting corruption need to be able to do so without fear of retribution.
The culture of integrity is an attempt not just to generate 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. Like other areas where ships are frequently in and out of ports, the loose interpretation of the responsibilities of local officials provides a grey zone offering opportunities for bribery; in Argentina, this was becoming a barrier to trade.
MACN members’ reports and its database were used to identify the specific structural issue, which centred around dry bulk carrier and tanker hold inspections and the facilitation of 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), the development of 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. Corruption incidents in Argentina where MACN has engaged in collective action have decreased by more than 90%.
Through MACN members are provided with a toolkit of operating practices. What has been achieved in Argentina can, with MACN’s help, be achieved elsewhere.
What is MACN?
The Maritime Anti-Corruption Network (MACN) is a global business network working towards the vision of a maritime industry free of corruption.
MACN and its members work towards the elimination of all forms of maritime corruption by: raising awareness of the challenges faced; 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. MACN provides a safe forum for engagement through which members can share challenges and best practices, collectively assessing the areas for improvement in their internal procedures and approaches and developing open-sourced solutions.
Members of the MACN network include AET, Ardmore Shipping, BP Shipping, BSM, Frontline, Hafnia Tankers, and other well-known tanker owners, shipmanagers and operators.