THE ICE and anti-corruption lobby group Transparency International (TI) are in talks this week to develop standards for ethical accreditation to stamp out corruption in the construction industry.
ICE and TI representatives will discuss the concept of ethical auditing and develop a standard for ethical accreditation.
This will be carried out in a similar way to International Standards Organisation (ISO) quality assurance.
Construction and engineering is the most corrupt business sector in the world with illegal payments amounting to 5% of the global economy, according to TI.
There is growing evidence that British companies are more involved in corruption overseas, even though it is less commonplace in the UK.
Several British construction firms have been reported to the National Criminal Intelligence Service (NCIS) for overseas corruption since the Anti-Terrorism, Crime & Security (ATCS) Act came into force in 2002.
TI is raising the issue of corruption in the construction industry in the UK so that it becomes the flag bearer for ethical practice, as measured by 'ethical auditing'.
ICE director of professional conduct Paul Taylor fully backs the principles of TI and plans to organise evening meetings to allow members to discuss the issue further.
TI construction and engineering project director Neill Stansbury believes the new legislation is encouraging people to expose corruption since before 2002 no cases were reported.
'This is a marked change in how corruption is dealt with.
It seems no longer acceptable to brush it under the carpet, ' he said.
'The message we want to hammer home is that accepting bribes even on behalf of a company is a criminal offence and individuals could face jail sentences of up to 10 years.'
Stansbury, a solicitor, has spent 20 years in the construction industry. He has evidence of government officials accepting bribes of up to 30% of contract values in return for awarding contracts.
This has spurred him to find solutions to eradicate corruption in construction. He is particularly concerned with the impact it has on developing countries where a large proportion of infrastructure investment cash goes missing.
He said that the common response from contractors and consultants was that if they did not bribe to win jobs, they would lose work. He added that many companies who chose not to bribe had abandoned some areas of the market. According to TI, 19 leading construction companies from around the world signed up to anti-bribery business principles at the World Economic Forum last year.
TI has produced an 'ethical code' for companies to work to and methods for checking ethical standards of other companies. These can be found at:
www. transparency. org. uk.