Ethics & Compliance

PURPOSE

The purpose of this Business Integrity and Compliance Policy (“Policy”) is to:

  • Set our responsibilities and of those working for us, in observing and upholding our position on bribery, corruption, conflict of interest, anti-money laundering, and fight against the financing of terrorism;
  • Provide information and guidance on how to recognize and deal with bribery and corruption, money laundering, and issues related to the financing of terrorism;
  • Ensure Ekvita’s zero-tolerance policy towards bribery, money laundering, financing of terrorism, and other illegal activities in business;
  • Satisfy the requirements of Ekvita’s anti-bribery management system;
  • Ensure continual improvement of Ekvita’s anti-bribery management

INTRODUCTION

As a professional consulting company, in all our business transactions, we will abide by the requirements of the Law of the Republic of Azerbaijan on Combatting Corruption as well as other relevant legislation. While the geography of our operation is primarily limited to Azerbaijan, we always strive to adopt international best practices. For that purpose, our goal is to act in line with the recommended international standards such as Anti-Corruption Ethics and Compliance Handbook for Business (a joint publication of OECD, The World Bank, and UNODC), the OECD’s Good Practice Guidance on Internal Controls, Ethics, and Compliance and ISO 37001: Anti-Bribery Management Systems.

Also, due to a prevailing number of international clients in our portfolio, we will comply with our client's expectations and requirements. Therefore, in addition to the national laws of Azerbaijan as well as best practice international standards, we are committed to adhering to the requirements of the UK Bribery Act 2010 and US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act 1977 both documents aiming to strengthen ethics and fight corruption.

Further, we are also committed to the fight against money laundering and financing of terrorism and abide by all national and international legal acts in this regard.

APPLICATION

All EKVITA employees regardless of the length of their employment, position in the company, or work schedule (full/part-time) are duty-bound to follow this Policy. This Policy also applies to seconded employees, volunteers, interns, our agents, business partners, contractors, and external consultants.

SCOPE

Bribery is offering, promising, giving, or accepting directly or indirectly any financial or other advantages, to induce the recipient or any other person to act improperly in the performance of their functions, or to reward them for acting improperly, or where the recipient would act improperly by accepting the advantage.

 Conflict of Interest means a situation in which different parties have interests that conflict with each other.

Kickbacks arise when suppliers or service providers pay part of their fees to the individuals who give them the contract or some other business advantage.

Facilitation payments are small bribes to officials with a view to speeding up the routine governmental transactions to which the payer is already entitled. Examples include payments to speed up the customs clearances and extra fees to officials to avoid the long queues, secure quick decision-making.

Public Official means any minister, civil servant, director, officer or employee or other officials of any government or any department, agency or body, and/or of any government-owned or controlled company, any company or enterprise in which government owns an interest of more than thirty percent, and/or of any public international organization; (ii) any person acting in any official, legislative, administrative or judicial capacity for or on behalf of any government department, agency, body, or public international organization, including without limitation any judges, or other court officials, military personnel and customs, police, national security or other law enforcement personnel and (iii) any close family member of any of the foregoing.)

Money laundering is about trying to legitimize illegal funds; it is the process by which criminals attempt to conceal the true origin and ownership of the proceeds of their criminal activity and integrate (reintroduce) the proceeds into the economy for legitimate purposes. Typically, money laundering follows a three-stage process:

  1. Placement – Physical disposition of monetary proceeds derived from illegal
  2. Layering – Separating the proceeds of criminal activity from their illegal source through layers of financial
  3. Integration – acquiring wealth generated from the transactions of the illicit funds, through additional transactions until the “dirty money” appears “clean”.

Reverse money laundering is a process that disguises a legitimate source of funds that are to be used for illegal purposes. It is usually perpetrated for the purpose of financing terrorism but can be also used by criminal organizations that have invested in legal businesses and would like to withdraw legitimate funds from official circulation.

Financing of terrorism means the provision or collection of funds, by any means, directly or indirectly, with the intention that they are used or in the knowledge that they are to be used, in full or in part, in order to carry out any terrorist act.

PROHIBITED ACTIONS

It is prohibited to:

  • Give, promise or offer payment, gift, or hospitality with the expectation or hope that a business advantage may be received, or to reward for an already gained business advantage;
  • Give or accept a gift or hospitality during any commercial negotiations or tender process, if this could be perceived as intended or likely to influence the outcome;
  • Accept a payment, gift, or hospitality from a third party that you know or suspect is offered with the expectation that it will provide a business advantage for them or anyone else in return;
  • Accept hospitality from a third party that is unduly lavish or extravagant under the circumstances;
  • Offer or accept a gift to or from government officials, or representatives, or politicians or political parties;
  • Threaten or retaliate against another worker who has refused to commit bribery or who has raised concerns under this Policy; or
  • Possess, conceal, use, convert or transfer criminal property or its proceeds;
  • Become involved in an arrangement facilitating any of the above, or
  • Possess or in any way deal with funds related to terrorist activities or funds likely to be used for terrorist activities;
  • Engage in any other activity that might lead to a breach of this Policy.

CONFLICTS OF INTEREST

PCIs may not act on behalf of EKVITA, or deal with EKVITA, in any matter if there is Conflict of Interest, whether actual or perceived, or use their position or affiliation with EKVITA to pursue or advance their private interests.

PCIs are required to make timely written disclosure of all new and existing Conflicts of Interest, whether actual or perceived.

GIFTS, HOSPITALITY, AND EXPENSES

This Policy allows reasonable and ordinary hospitality or entertainment given to or received from third parties, provided that the gift, hospitality, or donation is proportionate in the circumstances and must not, in any event, be excessive, for the purposes of:

  • Establishing or maintaining good business relationships;
  • Improving or maintaining our image or reputations; or
  • Marketing or presenting our services

Giving and/ or accepting gifts is allowed if the following requirements are met:

  • It is appropriate in the circumstances taking account the reason for the gift, its timing, and value;
  • It is given openly, not secretly;
  • It complies with any and all applicable local laws; and
  • It is not

Although Azerbaijani laws allow gifts to public officials up to a certain value, we prohibit any gifts to any public official irrespective of its value.

Giving or receiving cash gifts or payments is strictly prohibited under any circumstances.

DONATIONS

Charitable donations are permitted provided that they are legal and ethical under the laws and practices; they must never be made in an attempt to influence any decision or gain a business advantage and are always publically disclosed.

FACILITATION PAYMENTS AND KICKBACKS

We do not make, and will not accept facilitation payments or "kickbacks" of any kind even if it is customary or expected.

All employees must avoid any activity that might lead to a facilitation payment or kickback being made or accepted by us or on our behalf, or that might suggest that such a payment will be made or accepted.

ANTI-MONEY LAUNDERING (AML) AND FIGHT AGAINST FINANCING OF TERRORISM (FATF)

1.1.1. Client Onboarding

When onboarding a potential new client Ekvita personal shall ensure the implementation of the following:

  • initial screening of the client which shall as a minimum include the performance of comprehensive identification and verification measures and collection of data from diverse government and private sources such as media institutions, and international regulators, and law enforcement agencies (if possible);
  • due diligence of the client’s profile, including but not limited to, the list of its ultimate beneficial owners, shareholders, senior officials, location and type of its bank accounts, the source of funds, types of transactions and/or projects attended; and thereafter
  • creation of “the client risk profile” (low, medium, and high) through a risk assessment

 1.1.2. Monitoring of Existing Clients

Ekvita personnel shall ensure that AML and FATF monitoring of existing clients (“Monitoring”) is implemented on a daily basis. Monitoring includes but not limited to,

  • transactions exceeding regular client thresholds (or statutory thresholds);
  • transactions connected with suspicious parties and/or jurisdictions;
  • changes in client legal status (mergers, acquisitions, transfer of shares, bankruptcy or insolvency, liquidation );
  • recording of communications and surveillance of employees to the extent permissible by the relevant legislation and the confidentiality agreements, etc.;

MODERN SLAVERY

We take a proactive approach in preventing modern slavery by:

  • Conducting due diligence and risk assessment in supply chains to prevent inadvertent use of forced labor or products at risk of being produced by forced labor
  • Ensuring the ethical recruitment of migrant workers, including through prohibiting charging workers with fees to secure work and withholding identification documents

 

YOUR RESPONSIBILITIES

The prevention, detection, and reporting of bribery and other forms of corruption are the responsibility of all those working for us or under our supervision. Everyone is required to avoid any activity that might lead to, or suggest, a breach of this Policy. We reserve our right to terminate our relationship with any employee or third party who is found to be in breach of this Policy.

PROTECTED DISCLOSURE

If you are ever concerned that our Policy is not being followed, or simply feel unsure about any situation, it is vital that you speak up and ask a question or share your concern straight away. Please talk, call or email Ekvita's Compliance Function, either directly or via compliance hotline tool http://ekvita.com/contact or compliance@ekvita.com, who acts in an independent manner and is duly authorized to investigate your queries.

EKVITA Code of Conduct PDF