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Transparency International Ireland report finds much to be done to promote transparency and address corruption-related risks among Irish-based companies

20 May 2021

AIB Group tops ranking of 30 companies but none score more than 70%

Dublin, 20 May 2021

Transparency International (TI) Ireland has launched its first National Integrity Index (NII) – Private Sector report, today. The report looks at the corporate disclosure practices of 30 leading companies registered or having significant business operations in Ireland during 2020, and measures, based on the information they disclose to the public, the degree to which they are prepared to address corruption-related risks.
 
The following sample of 30 companies was drawn from a cross-section of firms from The Irish Times’ Top 1000 Companies list, based on size, revenue and sector in Ireland: Aer Lingus, AIB Group, Allergan plc, Apple, Applegreen, Bank of Ireland Group plc, Circle K Ireland, CityJet, CRH, Dawn Meats, DCC, Facebook, Google, Grafton Group, Greencore Group, Mediahuis/Independent News & Media, Intel, Irish Life Group, The Irish Times DAC, Kerry Group, Kingspan Group plc, LinkedIn, Microsoft, MSD, Permanent TSB Group Holdings, Perrigo Company, Pfizer, Ryanair, Trane Technologies and Tullow Oil.

AIB Group tops the NII - Private Sector index for 2020, on 20.5 points out of 30 available overall, followed by DCC on 19 of 30. Five companies share the third-highest overall score: Bank of Ireland Group, Irish Life Group, Kerry Group, Trane Technologies and Tullow Oil, each having scored 18.5 of the 30 points available.

National Integrity Index - Private Sector 2020

List of companies – View interactive tables and full report

RANK

COMPANY

OVERALL SCORE

10

Aer Lingus Ltd.

58%

1

AIB Group plc

68%

23

Allergan plc

47%

23

Apple Inc.

47%

14

Applegreen Ltd.

57%

3

Bank of Ireland Group plc

62%

27

Circle K Ireland Ltd.

40%

30

CityJet DAC

0%

8

CRH plc

60%

29

Dawn Meats ulc

8%

2

DCC plc

63%

22

Facebook Ireland Ltd.

48%

25

Google Ireland Ltd.

43%

14

Grafton Group plc

57%

17

Greencore Group plc

55%

10

Intel Corporation

58%

3

Irish Life Group Ltd.

62%

3

Kerry Group plc

62%

21

Kingspan Group plc

52%

18

LinkedIn Ireland ulc

53%

26

Mediahuis (previously Independent News & Media Group Ltd.)

42%

14

Microsoft Ltd.

57%

8

MSD Ireland Ltd

60%

18

Permanent TSB Group Holdings plc

53%

18

Perrigo Company plc

53%

10

Pfizer Inc.

58%

10

Ryanair Holdings plc

58%

28

The Irish Times DAC

27%

3

Trane Technologies plc

62%

3

Tullow Oil plc

62%

Ten companies scored full marks in the Anti-Corruption category, but no company received full points in any of the remaining three categories. The second strongest category was Whistleblowing, where the top-performing companies – AIB Group and DCC – scored 90% of the available points and almost half of the companies assessed scored more than 60%.

The Organisational Transparency and Political Engagement categories, with mean scores of 35% and 26% respectively, showed the greatest room for improvement. However, certain companies achieved high scores for Organisational Transparency, with Applegreen on 88%, The Irish Times DAC on 75%, and Permanent TSB on 69% topping this category. The highest score achieved in the Political Engagement category was 57% (Pfizer and Facebook).

‘Corruption is a barrier to dealing with the world’s biggest challenges, including climate change and the recent pandemic. And despite new laws and measures aimed at countering corruption, Irish companies still face corruption-risks arising from failures to disclose conflicts of interest or to adequately protect whistleblowers.

‘Surveys have also found that a high proportion of Irish-based executives were prepared to engage in either illegal or unethical conduct to win or retain business. Irish companies should therefore implement tighter internal controls, collect data on and monitor employee attitudes to misconduct and be far more vocal about their commitment to addressing these risks’, said Catherine Lawlor, Advocacy and Research Coordinator at TI Ireland and co-editor of the report.

The results show that although most companies were disclosing anti-corruption and whistleblowing policies, they had disclosed relatively little detail on their corporate structures and their engagement with politicians or public officials, and could share more financial information than is currently the case. TI Ireland has made nine recommendations aimed at improving corporate anti-corruption systems and disclosure practices including the need to:

  • enhance online disclosure practices;
  • increase levels of transparency surrounding organisational structures and financial information on a country-by-country basis;
  • disclose details of the charitable donations and community contributions made in each country in which companies operate;
  • adopt and disclose policies and procedures on responsible political engagement, the category with the lowest average score;
  • review whistleblowing policies for compliance with the Protected Disclosures Act 2014 and forthcoming Protected Disclosures amendment Act; and
  • share more information on the type and number of whistleblowing reports received and actions taken in response to them, while paying due regard to data protection and privacy issues. 

‘We have a lot of work to do to convince some of the world’s biggest companies about the importance of improving anti-corruption procedures and disclosure practices. While most large businesses, especially multi-nationals, are aware of their compliance obligations and are sharing more information than used to be the case, there’s still a lot of information that’s not being published that ought to be.

‘That said and although no company scores more than 70%, we would be surprised to see no improvement in disclosure practices. In 2019, we conducted a similar analysis of local authorities – three of which scored more than 70% and we saw a 9% improvement overall in the number of county and city councils publishing information on their anti-corruption and ethics policies and procedures’, said John Devitt, Chief Executive of TI Ireland and co-editor of the report.

TI Ireland welcomed the publication earlier this year of the Hamilton Review on measures to tackle ‘white-collar crime’ which should lead to the development of a national anti-corruption strategy and other initiatives highlighted in its submission to the Department of Justice. It also proposed the creation of an independent Anti-Corruption Bureau that would be dedicated to investigating political corruption and related offences. In the meantime, TI Ireland has called for the provision of additional resources for the Garda Economic Crime Bureau and its Anti-Corruption Unit.

Ends

Media Contact

Niamh O’Connor – noconnor@transparency.ie / 083 056 6363

Notes for editors

Founded in 2004, Transparency International (TI) Ireland is the Irish chapter of Transparency International, the global organisation dedicated to stopping corruption worldwide. TI Ireland’s National Integrity Index – Private Sector is the second in a series of National Integrity Index (NII) reports and indices measuring, based on the information they disclose to the public, the degree to which organisations across the public and private sector in Ireland are prepared to address corruption-related risks. TI Ireland published the first of these NII reports (on local authorities) in 2018 and 2019.

The NII – Private Sector 2020 report is based on the methodology applied in numerous Transparency in Corporate Reporting reports published since 2008 by Transparency International and its chapters in more than 30 countries. Further NII reports are due to be published on semi-state bodies and public bodies in 2021 and 2022. If funding allows, TI Ireland intends to conduct further assessments of corporate disclosure practices on a biannual basis so that surveyed companies and their stakeholders can monitor their progress.
 
The National Integrity research series is published with the support of the Community Foundation for Ireland. However, it reflects the views of Transparency International Ireland alone.

TI Ireland published a report in February titled  ‘‘Safe Haven?’ Targeting the Proceeds of Foreign Corruption in Ireland’ which examined the extent to which Ireland is prepared to detect, freeze and repatriate the proceeds of overseas corruption laundered through the Irish economy. The report’s recommendations included a prohibition of continued sale of dormant shelf companies in Ireland; and the requirement that legal persons acting as beneficiaries of life insurance policies become a heightened risk factor for relevant firms’ anti-money risk assessments.