Implications of the Bribery Act 2010

Are you aware that it is an offence to offer, promise or give a bribe as well as to request, or accept one with the intention to obtain or retain business, or commercial advantage in the conduct of business?

Facilitation payments such as those made to Government officials for carrying out or speeding up routine procedures such as planning permission; gifts given to secure advantage during a tender process or to encourage customers to buy products or services; and any payment/gift given by an employee to obtain new contracts can all be considered acts of criminal bribery.  You will be pleased to hear that corporate hospitality is permitted but it is important you take a common sense approach.  If it looks too good to be allowed it probably is!  Ensure the hospitality is offered in good faith with the sole intention of establishing or maintaining good business relations and not to secure an advantage for your business or influence the impartiality of the recipient.

What prevention measures can you put in place?  Firstly, undertake a risk assessment and draft a zero tolerance anti-bribery policy, with top level commitment, that is relevant to your business operations and your employees.  Secondly, ensure your employees are trained and understand the implications of the Bribery Act 2010 and that contracts of employment are updated to include acts of bribery in the context of gross misconduct.  Finally, put in place a stringent  approval processes for any payments, gifts or hospitality requests and keep an audit trail that includes a record of any incidents where ethical standards may have been breached and how they have been dealt with.

With prison sentences of up to 10 years and confiscation proceedings the likely outcomes for getting it wrong, you really cannot afford not to be aware of the risks.