Conflict of interest among employees has surged and is the most common type of corruption in New Zealand and Australia, according to a new survey.

The Deloitte ABC of bribery and corruption for 2017 shows conflict of interest was the most common form of corruption at 21 per cent, up nearly 10 per cent on the previous year, followed by inappropriate gifts and hospitality at 13 per cent.

Despite acknowledging the reputational risks of bribery and corruption, the survey showed New Zealand and Australia firms still had a lot to learn. Only 55 per cent of organisations said they expected to introduce or upgrade their anti-bribery and corruption compliance framework in the next five years.

Instead, Australasian firms tended to put faith in organisational culture in curbing domestic corruption, with 77 per cent of respondents believing it was the best method.


Despite this, New Zealand last year ranked alongside Denmark as the least corrupt countries according to Transparency International's Corruption Perception Index. Deloitte points out, however, that New Zealand had its biggest every bribery prosecution in the same year.

On an international scale, only 20 per cent of Australasian companies for whom foreign bribery was relevant rated it as a top-five risk to their company, despite one in five saying they had experienced a known incident of foreign corruption.

Only 20 per cent of Australian and Kiwi companies saw domestic corruption as a top-five risk to their organisations, which was only a minor increase on 2015.

Tip offs remain the top source of discovering instances of domestic corruption at just over 30 per cent, down on 40 per cent in 2015. Internal controls came in second at just under 20 per cent, followed by chance at 15 per cent.

"Organisations need to be proactive and vigilant if they have any realistic chance of combating bribery and corruption, otherwise they will simply fall behind," said Deloitte New Zealand forensic leader Barry Jordan.

"Although we are getting much better at identifying the symptoms of commercial and public sector bribery and corruption, whether that is through traditional or social media channels, we have still a lot to learn."