The Maritime Anti-Corruption Network (MACN) has released the results and lessons learned from 10 years of collecting data of corrupt demands in maritime trade, reports Safety4sea.
Data shows extent of a global problem
Across the world’s ports, corrupt demands are most commonly made for cigarettes, alcohol, and cash. While multiple actors are reportedly involved in making corrupt demands, the consequence of rejecting such demands is similar across the world’s ports – delay of the vessel, which has knock-on detrimental effects.
“The cost of corrupt demands, and the repercussions for refusing them, have massive consequences for the industry and trade,” said MACN CEO, Cecilia Müller Torbrand, adding that “corruption is having a real impact on trade and livelihoods – onshore and at sea.”
During the Covid – 19 pandemic MACN has noticed that the incidents have dropped in numbers, most likely due to reduced interaction with port authorities and increased adoption of electronic systems for vessel clearance.
What is more, the MACN CEO noted that there is a slight reduction in reporting, meaning that some of the mitigating actions taken to reduce health risks are also having a positive effect by limiting the person-to-person interaction usually associated with corrupt demands.
This data has been collected in over a decade through MACN’s Anonymous Incident Reporting platform, a system designed to allow the maritime industry to report when it has been faced with corrupt demands in ports globally. To date, the reporting system has close to 50,000 incidents reported in over 1,000 ports, across 149 countries.
Top 20 ports
Incidents across these top 20 ports represent 28.6% of all incidents reported. The largest percentage of top 20 ports are located in East Asia & Pacific (41.4%), followed by Middle East & North Africa (37.1%), Sub-Saharan Africa (8.8%), South Asia (7.1%), and Europe & Central Asia (5.5%). None of the top 20 ports are in Latin America & Caribbean or North America.
Overall, a total of 22 different types of actors have been involved in corrupt demands, with the most commonly reported actors to demand bribes being port authorities (20.9%), pilots (16.5%), customs (12.7%), and port agents (8.2%).
It is critical to note that the nature of MACN’s incident data does not reflect the issue of collusion, meaning that it does not tell us who initiated the demand or whether multiple actors were involved in a single demand.
MACN members have anecdotally reported collusion between different actors, but this type of demand cannot be substantiated by the data.
Lessons learned from establishing a global reporting system
- Involve industry stakeholders and partners: Engaging relevant stakeholders when developing a reporting system is critical to building a credible, robust, and trustworthy mechanism.
- Create and align stakeholder interests: A reporting system is only useful if it aligns the interests of disparate stakeholders.
- Define and communicate objectives: When developing a reporting system, it is crucial to define and communicate the intended use and outcomes of the data reported. Being upfront about the limitations of the data is also important.
- Consider anonymity of reporting: MACN’s reporting system does not capture who reported an incident. Rather, the focus is on the context surrounding the incident itself.
- Simplify reporting: In order to encourage use of a reporting system, reporting must be simple and questions meaningful. It is crucial to distinguish between data that needs to be reported to drive relevant action and data that is nice to have to provide additional context.
- Ensure good governance: The MACN Secretariat is responsible for collecting, reviewing, hosting, and analyzing the data, and has an important role in ensuring that the data used is in the best interest of its members and the overall MACN objectives.
- Drive action and impact: Finally, a successful reporting system should yield outputs that are used to drive action and impact. In the case of MACN, the incident reports inform and drive MACN’s collective action efforts, help members improve their compliance programs, encourage improvements in the overall trade environment, and enable peer learning and dialogue with external stakeholders.
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