Treasury Today Country Profiles in association with Citi
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May 2005

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Are you looking over your shoulder?

This month saw news of BP dismissing 252 people last year in an attempt to stop bribery and corruption. They were fired for unethical behaviour – mainly concerning theft, fraud and harassment.

Not the sort of thing treasury would get involved in, surely – especially in this time of good corporate governance? However, we must remember that one man’s good deal is another man’s corruption. So companies have to combat unscrupulous activities from all directions – be it internally, as in the case of BP, or externally, such as attempts from bogus companies to involve corporates in money laundering. In some cases, as we explore in e-treasury this month, the external threat may be aided by internal actions, whether knowingly or unknowingly. Indeed, in our technologically dependant world, companies are faced with many such threats, including identity theft and defamation of the brand through pharming – an internet deception designed to redirect large groups of people unwittingly to spoof websites.

As Lord Browne chief executive of BP said, "Human ingenuity will always find something to get up to. It is our job to track it down." For many treasurers, it becomes their job to track it down – identifying which threats the company could be exposed to and establishing a plan to counteract them.

The key is to remain sensible in your approach to tackling such threats. Fear can be expensive. Take a parallel example of companies currently investing in expensive systems to ensure they are able to meet their regulatory obligations. SOx (Sarbanes Oxley) compliance is a case in point, companies have almost been panic-buying systems through fear of not having enough information. Yes, you need to invest with the future in mind and to protect your company, but at the same time, investing in tools which over-engineer a solution is bad treasury management.