The way German engineering firm Siemens changed its profit-at-all-cost corporate culture, cleaned up its ethics and held employees accountable after a giant corruption scandal has valuable lessons for SA firms such as KPMG, Steinhoff and EOH caught up in corruption. Siemens, established in 1847 and now with 475,000 employees, has been one of the German companies trusted for their reliability, integrity and efficiency, until a corruption scandal in 2006 severely damaged its squeaky clean reputation. Six years previously, Siemens had introduced a policy that made it compulsory for its subsidiary companies to include anticorruption clauses in supplier contracts. A year later, the company followed this up with ethical “guidelines”, which stated: “No employee may directly or indirectly offer or grant unjustified advantages to others in connection with business dealings, neither in monetary form nor as some other advantage.”

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