Fintech Middle East & Africa

EY Report Finds COVID-19 Amplifies Integrity Challenges for Businesses in Emerging Markets

As organisations transition from managing the COVID-19 crisis towards building economic resilience, the EY Global Integrity Report 2020 reveals some diversity regarding the impact on company ethics. The findings are part of a survey highlighting the views of 2,948 board members, managers, and employees from emerging markets around the globe. In the Middle East, the survey covers interviews with 175 respondents in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA).

The report reveals that 63% of global respondents believe that businesses operating in emerging markets are likely to be impacted adversely by the current disruption.

The survey also highlights that regulatory scrutiny and remote working aggravate these issues. A total of 32% of global respondents in emerging markets said they believe that bribery and corrupt practices present the greatest risk to the long-term success of their businesses, roughly on a par with 30% of respondents in the UAE and 31% in KSA.

Globally, 30% of respondents believe that cyber and ransomware attacks are a significant risk to the long-term success of organisations. This is lower than in KSA, where 32% believe it is a threat but is significantly higher than in the UAE, where only 15% expressed concerns.

Mohammad Malkawi, KSA Forensic & Integrity Services Leader at EY, said: “The disruption caused by COVID-19 poses a risk to ethical business conduct, making it imperative for corporations and firms of all sizes to continue being vigilant on compliance-related issues. This holds true for organisations around the globe, as well as in the UAE, KSA and elsewhere around the region. Business leaders must make a firm commitment to encourage a culture of integrity and trust among all stakeholders. Particular attention must be placed towards risks of fraud, bribery and corruption, the threat of cyber attacks, and a constantly evolving regulatory environment. Ultimately, this will be the key towards creating long-term value and ensuring stability.”

The report highlights four key areas that organisations should consider to manage the risk of corporate misconduct more effectively:

  • Corporate integrity should be a top priority in management’s playbook
  • Voicing misconduct through whistleblowing channels
  • Embracing disruptive technologies while protecting data
  • Tackling third party integrity risks

Charles de Chermont, UAE Forensic & Integrity Services Leader at EY, added: “The results show that many businesses around the world have faced challenges when it comes to maintaining integrity as they build a pathway towards economic recovery. However, there are reasons to be optimistic. Around the world – and in the UAE and KSA in particular – companies are recognising the need to take steps to address these issues. With proper management, organisations can manage the risk of corporate misconduct effectively, and assure all stakeholders that they are committed to doing the right thing at all times.”


  • Polly is a journalist, content creator and general opinion holder from North Wales. She has written for a number of publications, usually hovering around the topics of fintech, tech, lifestyle and body positivity.

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