FIFA and the Bribery Act! “I haven’t thieved anything……

………….I haven’t given anybody anything and I don’t know what the hullabaloo is all about,”

These are the words of beleaguered FIFA Vice President Jack Warner trying desperately to clear his name of allegations that he accepted bribes to decide the fate of future world cup venues.

Whilst this story rumbles on it does highlight the challenges that Britain faces when we compete for business, either at home or abroad. Often when a company competes for business on merit, either through a tender process or proposal, they find that in fact the process was a personal auction designed to enrich the orchestrators of the process and not entirely designed to drive out the best deal to meet the objective.

All this is likely to change in the UK as the Bribery Act is introduced. This will call into question what constitutes acceptable relationship activity and what is an inducement. The serious question that remains unanswered is whether this tightening of the rules will leave Britain a more honest, yet uncompetitive country.

It is certain that the debate on this difficult point will also continue for some time. However, firms and organisations should review their entertainment strategy and make sure that they have a grip on what is going on within their business and to ensure that they are comfortable that the Bribery Act has not been infringed. It is therefore not surprising that in the light of this new legislation some firms have decided to alter their approach to entertainment quite radically. For example some have felt that the tickets on offer to entertain clients at the forthcoming UK Olympic games are too expensive to be called acceptable relationship building and have chosen to seek alternative less ostentatious entertainment programs. Whilst this is probably a cautious view, it does make you think, so:  

  • Do you know how much is spent on any one client, as often different parts of a business may be entertaining the same individuals – so a single or central view is key.  
  • Have you developed an entertainment policy - deciding clearly what is acceptable and what is not will help staff to understand what they can and cannot do.  
  • Do you maximise your spend to make sure that what you do spend complies with the policy and is effective?
  • And is the policy embeded at board level and down to ensure that a cultural change is effected and not just lipservice paid. 

Let us know what you think?

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