The Bribery Act 2010 will become law in April of this year. The new law aims to introduce tougher penalties for individuals and companies involved in corruption. How can you and your company prepare for the Bribery Act?We’ve looked at what is the Bribery Act, now here’s a handy legal guide for preparing your business for the Bribery Act. What do I need to do to ensure my company has adequate procedures in place?
- Firstly, you should conduct a full risk assessment of operations to identify the areas of the business most at risk and therefore in need of thorough and effective policies and procedures. If your company operates in a country where corruption is endemic in the business culture, such as Nigeria, Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) or Vietnam, then the risk of falling foul of the law is much higher and every aspect of your operations in connection with those countries needs to be critically assessed and scrutinised.
- Your board of directors needs to deliver a strong message of zero tolerance from the top, both to employees and to third parties with whom the company has commercial dealings, clearly demonstrating the board’s commitment to prevent bribery in your organisation.
- You need to scrutinise your company’s due diligence practices. Does the company already carry out thorough background checks on individuals or companies to determine the level of risk associated with them, prior to engagement? If your company does not have the resource or expertise internally to do these checks, you should outsource the process to external experts, such as World-Check, who can investigate the background of companies and individuals, particularly overseas, on your behalf.
- Check that your company policies on corporate hospitality, procurement tendering, knowing your customers, gifts and “grease” payments are all in line with best practice for your type and size of business. The government does not expect every SME to expend the same amount of resource in doing this as every blue chip. The important thing is that your policies and procedures are in line with best practice for your sector and size of business.
- Ensure that your anti-corruption best practice policies and procedures are embedded in your organisation, rather than gathering dust on a shelf. For example, all staff training should be done in person, rather than online, and needs to be given to all staff entering into commercial relations with third parties, not just sales and procurement managers.
- Also you should seek advice from your solicitor on drafting clear language into the company’s standard contracts of employment, directors’ services agreements, agency and supply of services agreements, highlighting in these agreements the consequences of non-compliance. Including such language in your contracts puts the issue onto the discussion agenda prior to entering into any new commercial relationship.
- You should have a process in place to periodically monitor and review the processes, policies and training you have put in place, particularly to reflect any major change in the business’ operations or circumstances.
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