Compliance programs globally expect to shoulder more responsibilities in 2022 in response to stagnating enforcement efforts, according to the latest annual survey.

Kroll’s 2022 Anti-Bribery and Corruption (ABC) Benchmarking Report surveyed 700 risk professionals, including 50 representatives each from a list of 14 countries and territories. Respondents were asked for details about their compliance programs; views of the ABC regulatory environment; if and how they incorporated environmental, social, and governance (ESG) initiatives compared to 2021; and new for this year, their use of crypto and blockchain.

The survey was expanded from 200 respondents queried in 2021, with global, regional, and national results discussed.

In the 2022 report, about 70 percent of respondents expressed their compliance departments would take on more responsibilities this year. Kroll cited last year’s “lull” in enforcement of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) as a potential contributing factor to growing concerns of an increased regulatory environment in 2022. Respondents also expected their responsibilities to increase regarding tightening supply chains, the economic and political uncertainty brought on by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and the continued impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, the report noted.

Most respondents (82 percent) expected ABC risks to increase or stay the same, compared to 2021. Of the 38 percent who believed risks would increase, 34 percent pointed to cybersecurity and data breaches as the No. 1 security threat, while 22 percent said remote work and decentralized management were the leading factors.

“By all measures, 2022 will have heightened regulatory complexity for compliance professionals, and corruption risks and global regulations will continue to diversify. This complexity necessitates a continued commitment to anti-corruption and bribery programs that meets regulatory expectations and are prepared the future,” the report said.

Respondents citing financial pressure as a growing risk (17 percent) nearly tripled from the 6 percent who felt that way in 2021. This percentage was far higher in the United States, where 36 percent of respondents pointed to financial pressure as the primary reason for increasing risk.

Seventy-nine percent of respondents felt management supported their compliance efforts. The same percentage believed their organizations embody a culture of integrity. Fewer respondents (68 percent) believed they have the technology they need to get the job done.

About 60 percent of respondents who expressed concern with the regulatory environment worried regulations would tighten. Fifty-one percent of those concerned about regulation feared increased enforcement was on the horizon, and 41 percent believed regulators would want more self-reporting in 2022.

Forty-four percent of those with a heightened concern about regulatory enforcement said they were reviewing their compliance programs, 43 percent were refreshing their risk assessments, and 42 percent were evaluating existing policies. But just 31 percent of compliance professionals were acting because they anticipated more scrutiny in 2022.

“This may be either due to muted concern for enforcement or their broad confidence in the effectiveness of their programs,” Kroll noted.

Focus on crypto and blockchain

About 52 percent of respondents said they use blockchain in their ABC programs, while 48 percent said they had no such plans.

Middle East compliance programs are out front in adopting blockchain, with 46 percent of respondents surveyed there stating they are currently using it, compared to just 27 percent of practitioners surveyed in Europe, 22 percent in Asia Pacific, 13 percent in the United States and Canada, and 11 percent in Latin America.

“These survey results demonstrate a certain, if gradually paced, increase in awareness about and use of the blockchain technology and its distributed security and validation features within the compliance and risk management functions of companies in the countries and regions surveyed,” the report said.