Have you taken precautions to avoid prosecution under the Bribery Act?

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This is worrying since under the Act, a company can be prosecuted for failing to prevent bribery and the only defence is that the company has adequate procedures in place to prevent bribery. And the risk of prosecution has probably increased with the appointment of a new head of the Serious Fraud Office

So, if one of your employees or agents pays a bribe with the aim of getting business for your company, your company as well as the individual employee or agent could be prosecuted.

Just as every company needs a Health & Safety Policy, so they now need an Anti-Bribery Code of Conduct. While every company is different, there are templates available online that can be adapted, such as that published by Govrisk (The International Governance & Risk Institute)

The other offences under the Act are
• bribery of another person
• accepting a bribe
• bribing a foreign official

The risk of prosecution has probably increased with the appointment of a new head of the Serious Fraud Office: David Green, who previously was in charge of Revenue & Customs prosecutions, has made it clear that he is going to take a more aggressive approach to financial crime than his predecessor.

So far there has only been one successful prosecution under the Bribery Act but that is likely to change and businesses need to take a proactive role in avoiding bribery – not only among their staff but also undertaking risk assessments before entering into relations with suppliers, partners and agents – especially when they are based overseas as a company can be prosecuted in England for bribery abroad.

An effective code of conduct should help to ensure there are procedures in place to protect the business from bribery and from prosecution.

The Act can be found here
A code of contact template can be found drafted by Giles Dixon of Contract Store can be found here

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