The Anti-Bribery Act 2010 has been in force since July 2011; however it seems not everyone is aware of the impact that the Act has on their own businesses and what they are meant to do to be compliant.
The Act was introduced in an attempt to crack down on bribery offences, and to positively change or eliminate bribery cultures within industries by introducing strict guidelines. Applying to all private industries, it is broad in its approach but strict in that businesses will be dealt with on a strict liability basis. There are various offences; however the most significant one for businesses is a strict liability offence for commercial organisations, where they fail to prevent bribery by those acting on their behalf. This means it will be construed as being an offence unless the one limited defence is available. A business will not be guilty of a bribery offence if it can show it had ’adequate procedures’ in place.
Adequate procedures include:
- Briefing senior management
- Providing adequate training to staff
- Carrying out due diligence on projects, particularly in cross border transaction
- Maintaining and updating policies in staff handbooks
- Annually monitoring processes in order to ensure best practice approaches are adopted
If convicted, the risks to organisations are:
- 10 years / a fine, or both for a person found to be involved
- Unlimited fines for the organisation, which are often hefty
Senior management teams are also at risk of prison or a fine where they are deemed to have given their consent or connivance to giving or receiving a bribe, or bribing a foreign public official. Importantly, it is possible that omitting to act might be regarded as consent or connivance and lead to prosecutions, fines and/or imprisonment.
For advice on anti-bribery procedures, or to request an audit of your procedures, contact our Business Law Team on 01279 755777.