If you haven't yet considered your bribery risk it's not too late. The Bribery Act 2010 becomes part of UK law as of today. Compliance with the Act is ongoing and we've set out what we believe are the five key issues for businesses:
1. Serious response to a serious risk
The Act creates four new offences, including a new corporate offence of failing to prevent bribery. This applies to any entity, wherever registered or conducting its main activities, if it carries on any business in the UK or is managed by people with a UK connection. If convicted, corporate entities face unlimited fines. Individuals face unlimited fines and 10 years in prison.
2. Adequate procedures
A corporate defence exists where 'adequate procedures' can be demonstrated. Be proactive. It pays to invest now. Assess your organisation's bribery risk, review and implement policies and procedures if appropriate and raise awareness through training, rather than take a reactive approach if it's raised as a concern by people you do business with, your auditors or the regulator.
3. Leadership, education and training
The guidance to the Act emphasises the creation of a strong anti-bribery culture within an organisation. Executives and senior managers should undergo training and awareness, allowing them to lead by example and instil an anti-bribery mindset throughout the business. Training helps employees understand their responsibilities and demonstrates adequate procedures.
4. Internal awareness
Your whole organisation has a responsibility to comply with the Act. Use this opportunity to review how you do business, overseas and at home. Small acts of bribery may be part of the culture in certain jurisdictions and it may be that one-off, low value occurences are unlikely to be prosecuted in their own right. They could however demonstrate a wider culture of corruption in the event of a major investigation or prosecution. Raising awareness and having procedures in place will demonstrate your commitment to anti-corrupt practices and that any isolated acts are down to rogue individuals.
5. Understanding and diligence
Nobody wants to be associated with bribery and corruption. Financial and reputational consequences can be drastic. Diligently monitor your business associates and make them aware of your anti-bribery policies. Ensure you have an adequate framework for managing people doing business on your behalf, e.g. overseas employees and third party agents.
Your corporate approach
Addressing and managing your organisation's bribery risk also embraces your corporate social responsibilities and stakeholder pressures as well as responsible corporate governance.
The cornerstone of your response lies in the assessment of your organisation's exposure to bribery risk, with controls implemented that are proportionate to that risk. We have worked with national and international businesses since the Act was first passed, helping them to assess their level of bribery risk and respond accordingly by implementing robust systems and procedures to manage that risk. You may have already identified your risk as low, in which case your 'adequate procedures' response may simply require an updated anti-bribery policy and awareness training rather than a fully integrated anti-bribery compliance regime.
As a minimum, we recommend awareness training, whether for all employees or just for senior managers to cascade down. While we can assist you in assessing your bribery risk and then help review or implement appropriate controls, we also offer a range of bespoke training products, including seminars, interactive workshops and coaching sessions.