The Maritime Anti-Corruption Network (MACN) – Copenhagen

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Ms. Cecilia Müller Torbrand
Program Director

First of all tell us when your network was established, who initiated it and what is the purpose of the network.

MACN is a global business network working towards the vision of a maritime industry free of corruption that enables fair trade to the benefit of society at large.

Established in 2011 by a small group of committed maritime companies, MACN has grown to include around 90 members globally and has become one of the pre-eminent examples of collective action to tackle corruption.

MACN and its members promote good corporate practice in the maritime industry for tackling bribes, facilitation payments and other forms of corruption. MACN collaborates with key stakeholders, including governments and international organizations, such as the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), to identify and mitigate the root causes of corruption in the maritime industry

Shipping & Logistics is a very broad business with many players involved. Tell us about your current membership base, who are they, what they aim to get out of MACN and what the membership advantages are.

Bribery and corruption regulation is becoming ever more rigorous. Additionally, stakeholders expect companies to play a significant role in addressing the root causes of corruption.

Members of MACN make an important contribution to the elimination of corruption in the maritime industry. In addition, by demonstrating their commitment to fair trade to the benefit of society at large, MACN members benefit from a heightened reputation among customers and partners.

Companies can join as a regular or associate member. Regular membership is open to vessel owners and operators that commit to implementing the MACN Anti-Corruption Principles.

I understand that you have mainly focused on shipowners and shipping agents until now. Are you also looking at expanding your network to include freight forwarders, customs brokers and others in the logistics chain?

MACN seeks to engage more with the freight forwarding business and in partnership with relevant organizations such as CLC Projects. The logistics business is a key player in the interaction with customs and can play an important role to support and advance country-specific efforts MACN engages in to combat corruption.

How can you influence authorities to crack down harder on the pervasive problem of corruption, especially in certain parts of the world? Can you cite some cases where your network has made a difference?

MACN works with MACN’s three priorities:

Capability building –
In order for Captains and other private sector actors to be able to say no to corrupt demands, they must feel supported by strong policies and principles. MACN provides a safe forum for engagement through which members can share challenges and best practices, collectively assessing the areas for improvement in their internal procedures and approaches and developing open-sourced solutions.

Following the MACN Anti-Corruption Principles, MACN develops shared methodologies, frameworks, training, and campaigns, helping each member company to strengthen its approach to tackling corruption. E.g. MACN has developed a training toolkit on anti-corruption, we develop toolkits for frontline staff, and just launched a blueprint Code of Integrity for members to use internally.

Collective action –
Collective action is an important tool to help the private sector take proactive steps to tackle corruption. Tackling systemic integrity challenges requires collective action, with companies joining forces and sharing information and approaches, but also engaging governments and civil society. The essence of the MACN collective action approach is that successful, lasting changes in the operating environment will take effect only if they are enabled and supported by and beneficial to key stakeholders. Through collective action, MACN members work in partnership with local authorities to develop solutions that are both beneficial to all and realistic to implement. In MACN collective action projects, member companies unite with stakeholders including port and customs authorities, NGOs, and local governments to undertake root cause analyses and then implement a range of ’recommended actions’ that tackle corruption in ports and across the maritime supply chain.

MACN’s collective actions have generated major outcomes, including for example: reductions in demands for facilitation payments in the Suez Canal; new regulations in Argentina that make it more difficult for officials to demand bribes; and improved ease of operations in Lagos, Nigeria, with the implementation of standardized operating procedures and grievance mechanisms in ports.

Culture of Integrity –
Culture of Integrity is an attempt not just to generate change for specific stakeholders (e.g. captains or port authorities) in specific corruption hot-spots, but to drive fundamental change in deep-seated attitudes regarding corruption, creating a permanent trend towards the eradication of demands.

While it is vital to address both internal capacities and to reject demands and specific geographic areas and actors that cause problems for shipping companies, MACN members recognize that culture governs deep-seated changes. To achieve its vision of a maritime industry free of corruption, MACN must reach out beyond its membership and collective action stakeholders to all actors in the maritime industry, and ensure alignment on anti-corruption thinking.

MACN has established an alliance with traditional maritime associations and organization and we are currently working towards a submission to IMO on the negative consequences corruption has on global trade, seafarers wellbeing. MACN is also engaging with cadet schools to offer integrity training to the next generation of seafarers.

Mao Tse Tung famously remarked once that “in the cleanest water lives no fish”, do you believe that the problem of corruption in shipping is as big as ever or has it become reduced in recent years? The Suez Canal famous for the name the Marlboro Canal due to the boxes of cigarettes etc being handed over to some of the boarding pilots etc is that a problem that has been addressed by your group as well?

I do think the maritime industry is more aware of the regulations on corruption, and that requirements from customers and stakeholders are increasing on managing the service with integrity. I think transparency will only increase and unlike in the past companies can’t hide or push unethical behavior down their supply chain and the responsibility goes all the way. Our results from our collective action program show that.

I also think a lot can be done. It is easy to get stuck in arguments such as “the world will never change” “it has always been like this”. The industry can move far by implementing strong anti-corruption programs, by supporting frontline efforts and by engaging collectively as we do in MACN where we can raise issue as an industry.

Tell us about your own background in shipping and how you came to join MACN

I was one of the front drivers for its establishment in 2011 and I have served as chair of the network and as collective action lead in the MACN Steering committee. Prior to working full time with MACN, I worked close to nine years in compliance and shipping as senior compliance officer in Maersk. I have been responsible for anti-corruption efforts globally; trained management and staff worldwide; implemented whistleblowing systems; rolled out country-specific anti-corruption campaigns; and conducted risk assessments, audits, and misconduct investigations. In 2015 I was awarded Compliance Officer of the Year by C5 Women in Compliance Awards for my work within compliance.

Interviewee:MACN Logo
Ms. Cecilia Müller Torbrand
Program Director
The Maritime Anti-Corruption Network