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The Impact of the Bribery Act


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Roger MasonDo you understand the full ramifications of the Bribery Act?

It was announced on 30th March that the Bribery Act 2010 will be implemented on 1st July 2011. The Act received Royal Assent on 8th April 2010 ahead of the General Election. The delay has largely been due to detailed consideration being given to some contentious aspects of the Act. In particular organisations were concerned about having to have ‘adequate procedures’ in place to prevent bribery.

I have been closely monitoring the various views that people have expressed about this challenging legislation. The aims of the Act are to modernise and consolidate the law on bribery. 

The Act clearly defines several new offences which will carry stiff penalties. The maximum penalty for a commercial organisation failing to prevent bribery is an unlimited fine whilst the maximum penalty for any of the offences committed by an individual is ten years imprisonment, an unlimited fine or both.

The Act also addresses the practice of ‘facilitation payments’ which you will not be able to defend by saying it is the only way to do business in a particular country. Then there is the thorny issue of corporate hospitality and gifts.  The question you will need to ask yourself is whether by offering such things you are trying to influence the recipient to act improperly.  Will risk averse organisations stop all forms of entertainment?  If they do, they will need to think about the conduct of their commercial people who might be willing to give up some of their personal benefit in order to win a substantial contract.

What do I mean?  Let me illustrate this concern.  One of the sales account managers of the European operation of an American company, which is controlled from an office in the UK, lives in Italy and is pretty close to pulling off a deal with a French company. The deal will result in a commission of £200,000 being paid to the sales account manager.  With the intention of influencing the buyer of the French company, the sales account manager invites the buyer to a four day festival in Munich.  The sales account manager takes personal responsibility for the full cost of this entertainment which amounts to £25,000 and does not claim the expense back from the American company.

Has the sales account manager committed a crime?  Would the Bribery Act consider that the American company has committed an offence?  These are issues that you will have to address ahead of the implementation date which is less than three months away.

I am presenting a 90 minute LIVE online seminar on 12th May which will help you understand the ramifications of the Bribery Act – for details please go to this web page.

Roger Mason
UK Training (Worldwide) Limited

 


 


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