Does your business run any sort incentive scheme? Are you confident that you have put in place adequate procedures to prevent the scheme being abused by employees or companies/individuals ‘associated’ with you?
At the end of September 2015, the Scottish media reported the first case under section 7 of the Bribery Act of a company failing to prevent bribery. It is reported that cabling firm Brand-Rex Limited ran an incentive programme for UK distributors and installers. They were rewarded if they met or exceeded sales targets. Rewards included foreign holidays. However, an internal review discovered that an independent installer had offered his travel tickets to an employee of one of his customers. The person who ultimately received the tickets was able to influence decisions about which company cabling was purchased from.
Brand-Rex carried out a far reaching internal investigation and reported the breach by its installer (an ‘associated person’ under the Bribery Act) to the Scottish Crown Office. Brand-Rex paid £212,800 by way of a civil settlement under the Proceeds of Crime Act, and was not prosecuted. It is understood that Brand-Rex did not raise an ‘adequate procedures’ defence, although following the breach it implemented new policies and training.
In England, the Serious Fraud Office has the power to deal with a corporate bribery case by way of a civil recovery order in appropriate cases but it is more likely that it will look at a deferred prosecution agreement as an alternative.
If nothing else, this case should be a wake up call to businesses to check their anti-bribery policy and procedures.