The rise of corruption enforcement globally reflects the swift progress of the UK Bribery Act through parliament. Having had to play legislative catch-up with the rest of the developed world, it is widely accepted that the UK will experience increased enforcement action against UK companies and directors in the coming months.
The Bribery Act is due to come into force on 1 July 2011 and broadly covers four offences:
- Offering, promising or giving a bribe
- Requesting, agreeing to receive or accepting a bribe
- Bribing a foreign public official
- A corporate offence of failing to prevent bribery
The area that is causing greatest concern is the corporate crime of ‘failing to prevent bribery’. In short, bosses of businesses could be prosecuted for actions of corrupt employees and pleading ignorance will not be considered a solid defence. The guidance issued earlier this year provided more detail about what will constitute adequate procedures to prevent bribery within a company.
So what are ‘adequate procedures’? The action that a business takes should certainly be proportionate – considerations including the size of the business, risk of bribery, and whether the business operates overseas should be acted upon. Risk assessments, staff monitoring, and due diligence on companies they deal with directly would go some way to demonstrating preventative measures.
Complying with this legislation requires not only good judgement and observation but also robust preparation. With people being the driver of bribery and corruption, making sure businesses keep a close eye on their employees is key. Monitoring ‘at risk’ individual’s emails and user accounts can be achieved through automated checks. Using a collections tool to automatically download a sample of certain employee’s data at regular intervals can enable the business to run keyword checks across the data. Anything suspicious will be identified at the ealiest possible opportunity and with very minimal impact on the business and employee. These adhoc checks could even be written into the employee’s contract.
Adopting such preventative measures will not only ensure that ‘adequate procedures’ are being followed but should the regulator have cause to investigate, a full auditable history can be produced and electronically stored information would have already been retained for possible disclosure.
For further information please call our business development team on 0161 797 8123.