In Depth: Cecilia Muller Torbrand on The Maritime Anti-Corruption Network [Podcast]


By Adam Turteltaub

For organizations working to avoid corruption it can be a lonely fight. While a sales or compliance team may know that there are many others out there who would not pay a bribe, when facing a corrupt demand, they tend to be on their own.

The maritime industry, though, has taken a major step to change the dynamic. In this extended, in-depth podcast, Cecilia Muller Torbrand, Chief Executive Officer at Maritime Anti-Corruption Network (MACN), explains how they pursued a collective action approach that now includes about 200 companies.

The maritime industry is very exposed to corruption risk. A given ship can touch many jurisdictions over a short period of time. Captains are often very far from their headquarters and encounter multiple government touch points when approaching a port.

The corruption they face varies dramatically, but it is frequently manifested with requests for facilitation payments: some token of appreciation. The challenge is a legal one since facilitation payments are prohibited under the UK Bribery Act. It is also a practical one, when the appreciation turns into a demand and expectation. When a captain turns down the request, it can lead to a host of problems, ranging from confiscated passports to endless, time consuming inspections.

To help fight this problem MACN began about 10 years ago with just 8-10 companies. It has since grown to around 200. The companies recognized they could not fight the problem alone and had to work together.

Success has been driven by a focus on solutions rather than finger pointing. They also, when possible, seek to bring in the local government. Armed with a database of over 50,000 incidents of corrupt demands they are able to use data, rather than anecdotes, to advocate for change and demonstrate how systemic the issue is.

The results have been substantial, and over time the MACN logo on a ship has come to mean a great deal in countries where they are active. It actively helps dissuade bribe seeking.

MACN has also created a Global Port Integrity Program (GPIP). It leverages the data collected on corruption incidents to provide members with a port-by-port look at corruption risk, enabling better preparation.

Secondly GPIP has enabled them to provide a level of transparency not before seen that can help ports understand how they need to improve.

All these efforts have led to remarkable results with measured improvements on the ground.

Listen in to learn more about what MACN has done, and, perhaps, use it as a model for your industry.