I’ve had a couple of chats with some business colleagues and it has surprised me how little thye knew about the new Bribery Act that came into force in April 2011.
In fact one of them hadn’t actually heard of it, which may be worrying because it states that companies need to adopt a policy to ensure that bribery does not take place, as doing nothing can mean jail for the directors concerned.
If that doesn’t make you sit up and take notice, I don’t know what will! In business there has always been legislation that could result in fines for doing nothing. Health and Safety legislation tightened the grip and transgression could result in a prison sentence if found guilty of wilful negligence.
The Bribery Act 2010 extended the threat of jail for doing nothing even further as failure to prevent bribery is also an offence under the act.
For example, a commercial organisation could be found guilty of an offence under this act, if a person associated with the company bribes another person intending to obtain or retain business for the firm, or to obtain or retain an advantage in the conduct of business for the company.
So it doesn’t matter whether you as the manager were aware if the offence was being committed or not.
What you can do, however, is put in place adequate processes designed to prevent people associated with your company from committing such offences. Only then would you have any form of defence if anything underhand has occurred.
The key areas to cover against are:
1. Bribing another person
2. Taking a Bribe
3. Bribery of foreign public officials
4. Failure to prevent bribery
And it’s not just the individual involved who risks going to jail…the company may end up with substantial fines too, with the risk of being blacklisted.
So it would be a good idea to get yourself up-to-date with this specific new law. Y
ou can download the government information pack at www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2010/23/contents
Originally published: 12 June, 2011
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