11 December 2015
Penalties and Prevention: Bribery and Corruption in Business
The UK Bribery Act was passed in 2010 and it means that penalties associated with corrupt practices have become much stricter. Culprits potentially face 10 years’ imprisonment and an unlimited fine.
So what can your business do to prevent corrupt practices?
Import and export businesses are more likely than any other type of business to face bribery and corruption in their day to day activities. For example, you are supplying a project in a South American country and the equipment is stuck in customs. An official says you can pay if you want the paperwork sped up. What do you do?
The Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) has created a new decision-making toolkit that can help you and your employees when faced with potentially corrupt activities. The Say No Toolkit is downloadable to any computer and also comes with a smartphone app to use in the field.
The toolkit delivers immediate guidance on a wide range of business issues, especially those that could lead to accusations of bribery. It simply explains when it is right to say no and when to say yes.
Breaking into new overseas markets is risky, and made even more so by the threat of less than honest individuals that you may come across. The UK Bribery Act’s Clause 7 states that companies will be held liable if they fail to prevent “persons associated with them” from bribing another person on their behalf. This means that even if you use an intermediary to help with your company’s work, and they use bribes to get work done, then you could still be liable and could face prosecution.
It is important that even before you start to trade overseas that you have sound policies and procedures in place before anyone even steps foot on an aeroplane. Your staff should be well informed about what you will and will not accept as part of their business negotiations. The Ministry of Justice offers some excellent guidance on the UK Bribery Act 2010 that may be of use to any business owner.
Standing up to corruption and refusing to take part in bribery may close some doors to your business, but it’s not worth the risk in the long run. Ultimately by refusing to take part in corrupt practices you are protecting your reputation, your brand, and your long term growth. If in doubt, don’t do it.
If you are worried or need legal advice regarding any part of your business practices please contact Slater and Gordon’s expert business lawyers. Call us on freephone 0800 916 9054 or contact us online and we will call you.