Bribery Act Compliance
The Bribery Act 2010 and its implementation in July 2011
Corporate Hospitality is good for business, that’s a fact! We must ensure that the Act is not (in conjunction with the corporate lawyers) strangling the life out of one of the most important parts of the sales and marketing function and slowing business regeneration post recession. We must therefore work together to find a softer touch to compliance, and create an environment where employees are fully aware of what constitutes good hospitality but at the same time understand the line to which they cannot, will not and must not cross.
But what is the Bribery Act and what are the implications for business?
The bribery act is a law that has been introduced to ensure fair practice within businesses and to pave the way for the blanket adoption of anti-bribery safeguards. In particular it will:
- Introduce a corporate offence for failure to prevent bribery by persons working on behalf of a business. A business can avoid conviction if it can show that it has adequate procedures in place to prevent bribery.
- Make it a criminal offence to give, promise or offer a bribe and to request, agree to receive or accept a bribe either at home or abroad. The measures cover bribery of a foreign public official.
- Increase the maximum penalty for bribery from seven to 10 years imprisonment, with an unlimited fine.
- The new anti-bribery law due for implementation at some stage in 2011 could therefore produce some unintended consequences for many companies. Although we are still as yet unaware of the full implications, the legislation plans to prosecute any failings to prevent bribery in firms or associated parties. It does mean that companies could be punished because of ‘weak compliance processes, even if there is no evidence of corporate intent to bribe’.
What is Government doing to help companies comply?
The SFO will ensure that regulation is adhered to – they have developed six key principles that can ensure a business will be compliant with the new bribery law.
- Risk assessment – knowing and keeping up to date with bribery risks in your sector and market.
- Top level commitment – establishing a culture across your organisation which embeds a culture of complete unacceptability, sending out clear, unambiguous and repeated message to all staff and business partners.
- Due diligence – knowing who you do business with; knowing why, when and whom you are releasing funds to or providing hospitality for. Seeking reciprocal anti-bribery agreements and being in a position to feel confident that business relationships are both transparent and ethical.
- Clear, practical and accessible policies and procedures – applying them to everyone you employ and business partners under your effective control and covering all relevant risks. This includes political and charitable contributions, gifts and hospitality, promotional expenses and responding to facilitation demands or allegations of bribery.
- Effective implementation – going beyond ‘paper compliance’ to embed anti-bribery in your organisation’s internal controls. In particular; recruitment and remuneration policies, operations, communications and training on practical business issues.
- Monitoring and review – auditing and financing controls; regular review of your policies and procedures; and determining whether external verification would help.
So, if your business does not have effective controls in place for the audit of corporate hospitality and the event management process, then it is conceivable that you could be at risk of prosecution. A busy organisation cannot necessarily have absolute confidence in all the money being spent at all levels in the area of business development. At gdz we have developed a business model that will provide some reassurance for the board and give solutions to the principals of compliance through:
- a review of business practice in relation to the 6 principals
- sign-off by senior managers for rules of hospitality and events for customers
- compliant timetables of events supplied to all customers throughout a period
- invitation lists and a list of those attended
- the cost and details of hospitality to both individuals and their organisations
Working with gdz will limit your exposure to some of the potential pitfalls of this act and at the same time we will be building a more compliant process for this important area of the business – providing more efficiency, control and ROI for your annual events and hospitality budget.