In the anti-corruption fight, quick wins rarely come around. It can take years to help people understand how corruption can damage their business and their country. That’s why the story of Tatra Trucks came as a pleasant surprise.
Tatra Trucks is a Czech company that produces heavy vehicles for civilian and military purposes. As a big military supplier, we included it in our 2015 Defence Companies Anti-Corruption Index (CI), which assesses the ethics and anti-corruption programmes of the world’s major defence companies.
As part of the Index it became clear that Tatra Trucks failed to provide any publicly available evidence of an ethics and anti-corruption programme. As a result, the company scored one of the lowest scores of all 163 companies in the Index.
Perhaps this was the wake-up call Tatra Trucks had needed, because their reaction was immediate.
Tatra Trucks sent representatives to Transparency International Czech Republics’ press conference, in order to explain their position and finished by pledging to adopt an anti-corruption programme within six months.
The press conference itself was a great success. Media coverage was broad, demonstrating that the media are sensitive to the practices of the defence industry. In an interview following the press conference, the Czech Minister of Defence told Czech Radio broadcasting that the Ministry will – within current legal parameters – exert pressure on the defence industry for high anti-corruption standards. Other companies that were not involved in the CI – such as LOM Praha, which focuses on the maintenance and modernisation of aircraft and helicopters-, came forward to inform TI Czech Republic of their ethics and anti-corruption programmes. These events were also the beginning of a series of constructive meetings and exchanges with Tatra Trucks. It was agreed that the launch of the CI would be a starting point for a common effort to improve the sector.
Perhaps surprisingly, given the historical behaviour of the Czech defence industry, Tatra Trucks has made efforts to fulfil its promise. Two months later, an anti-corruption programme has been drafted in consultation with TI Czech Republic. The programme is now ready to be adopted by the company’s management.
Over the last few months the company has been working with TI Czech Republic to increase the quality and transparency of their programme and assisted with efforts to put pressure on the wider national defence industry to improve.
TI Czech Republic hopes this is not the end of the success story and intends to use the Tatra Trucks example to further develop dialogue with other major players in the Czech defence industry. The Tatra Trucks programme commits to the promotion of good practice in the Defence and Security Industry Association of the Czech Republic, and the wider Czech business environment. TI Czech Republic looks forward to working with Tatra Trucks and other open-minded defence companies to improve the integrity of the defence industry of the Czech Republic.
Guest author: Radim Bureš, Transparency International Czech Republic