Anti bribery policy
The Bribery Act 2010 significantly extended the scope and seriousness of UK bribery offences. It aims to effect a culture change so that British businesses no longer regard the payment of bribes in certain countries as an unwelcome but necessary ‘fact of life’ and are prepared to miss out on a business opportunity rather than pay a bribe. An anti bribery policy can help companies to entrench this new approach into corporate culture and demonstrate that they have procedures set up to prevent bribery from taking place.
Liability for business owners
An important point to note is that a new clause has been introduced – the offence of “Failure of commercial organisations to prevent bribery” – that requires organisations to take active steps to prevent bribery occurring or be guilty of an offence. This offence is committed if a person “associated with” a commercial organisation (such as an employee or contractor) bribes another to win or retain business or to gain a competitive advantage.
Worryingly for business owners and senior management, they are held liable irrespective of whether or not they had any knowledge of the bribe.
The only defence (apart from contesting the facts, of course) is for the company to demonstrate it had “adequate procedures” in place designed to prevent bribery and it is this provision that effectively forces businesses to implement an anti bribery policy.
With the legislation taking a zero tolerance approach to infractions one understandable concern is that corporate hospitality, in the form of entertainment and gifts, might be considered improper.
If you have compliance concerns and want to protect yourself and your business, Bridgehouse Company Secretaries can help. Our anti bribery policy services include:
- Conducting a risk assessment
- Drafting and implementing an anti bribery policy
- Developing awareness-raising communications and training
For expert help on how to implement an anti bribery policy, call us on 0845 055 8260 or email firstname.lastname@example.org