Wednesday, 30 January 2019 09:30

NSW man sets up online anti-corruption register

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Darren Frearson: "How often do you hear about businesses going under or losing thousands of dollars because another business fails to do the right thing?" Darren Frearson: "How often do you hear about businesses going under or losing thousands of dollars because another business fails to do the right thing?" Supplied

NSW-based entrepreneur Darren Frearson has set up an online register to provide Australian small businesses with a means of making a statement to people likely to hire them: we are corruption-free.

Frearson told iTWire that he had decided to set up the register, which is named Australian Anti-Corruption Certification, after he himself was cheated during business deals. He said he did not wish to provide details about his experience.

Basically, any business that joins this register makes a statement that it is corruption-free, backed by a signed legal deed; the company in question then gets a dedicated AA-CC Registration number. The AA-CC logo can be used on their communications thereafter to show that they are certified.

Frearson said if anyone who was listed on the register did indulge in hanky-panky, nothing could be enforced. It was more of a community effort and depended on firms being upfront and trying to solicit more business through a declaration of their integrity.

Each business that signs up has to pay an annual registration fee of $76.

“Corruption can occur not only within your own business, but also within the organisations you choose to do business with," said Frearson. “I too have lost a family business because those I partnered with acted in an appalling way, compromising the financial viability of my business.

“The cost and stress of the subsequent legal process was intense and potentially devastating. Fortunately, I was able to rebuild, move on and continue in business whereas many others are not so lucky and are left completely broken.

“The sad thing is that this situation is so common, so many good people are affected by greed, corruption and unethical behaviour.

“I formed some concepts with business friends about the need for a register of companies that are certified to be free of corruption. Everyone thought it was a great idea, so together with a dedicated team we started work and created the much needed register.

“We decided to launch the Australian Anti-Corruption Certification in December because December is the month of anti-corruption. Global Anti-Corruption Day, which is an United Nations initiative, takes place the same month. As a result and to encourage business to register with AA-CC, we will be donating part of the registration fee to the United Nations.”

Frearson claimed Australian business owners were sick of being done over "by large companies and bad apples who do the wrong thing and harm others".

"Many small and medium-sized businesses are family-owned. How often do you hear about businesses going under or losing thousands of dollars because another business fails to do the right thing?" he asked.

"So many have been affected by the collapse of Best Jet, Queensland Nickel, Appster and many others. Martin Building Services has just collapsed, as has Fastline Logistics and profile sports app 20Four.

"The Federal Government has failed to put in place a federal anti-corruption commission which covers all industries, so we have decided to set up our own register."

The AA-CC website can be accessed, free of charge, to find businesses that have declared themselves corruption-free.

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Sam Varghese

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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