Interchange, a company that helps companies reduce their exposure to commercial and other risks, is warning UK business leaders that 2012 will be the year where they face their highest ever level of prosecution because of corruption and bribery.
2011 has been an unprecedented year of actual and alleged corruption and bribery in the UK and internationally, as well as other high profile and unsavory practices such as the much publicised phone hacking scandal.
Ironically, it has also been the year that the UK Bribery Act 2010 came into force on the 1st of July.
Unfortunately for him, the first conviction under the Act was Munir Yakup Patel who worked at Redbridge Magistrates' Court at the time of the incident in August. A court clerk, he took a £500 bribe to avoid putting details of a traffic summons on a court database and infamously ended up with a six-year prison sentence.
In the world of big business, companies such as engineering group Alstom, aluminum maker Alcoa, and aircraft manufacturer Embraer have either been fined or are under investigation for making bribes.
“The Bribery Act has been designed not just for large corporates to clean up their commercial dealings, but as the first conviction shows, individuals and much smaller businesses, especially those trading abroad,” says John Burbidge-King, CEO and risk expert at Interchange. “We have not even seen the tip of the iceberg in terms of the number of companies, directors and employees facing prosecution, fines and possible imprisonment because of the Act.
“Unless businesses begin to understand the law, and then take appropriate measures to mitigate their risk, their level of exposure has become extremely high. Even before the Bribery Act came into force, the Serious Fraud Office had made it clear going into 2011 that bribery and corruption would be dealt with harshly. There have been several investigations and convictions of very large companies and this will filter down to other businesses. There will be many more investigations and prosecutions in 2012.”
Away from business, FIFA, the world’s governing body of association football, has this year been continuously ensconced in controversy and accusations of bribery. Meanwhile, closer to home, London football clubs West Ham United and Tottenham Hotspur were also involved in a spat surrounding alleged financial misconduct over their separate efforts to secure the Olympic Stadium.
This month, The Royal Mail issued a warning to its workers that they should not accept gifts by customers above the value of £30. The fear is that in return, postal delivery workers would return favours to customers, such as earlier delivery.
“This really isn’t what the Bribery Act is about,” comments Burbidge-King, “however, the high profile publicity generated by this story has probably done more to raise awareness of this new law among businesses than anything else this year.”
He adds: “The Bribery Act represents an opportunity for businesses to clean up their act if there is any wrong-doing and in the process actually do better business, both at home and abroad.”
Ten tips to avoid falling foul of the Bribery Act in 2012
• Read the Bribery Act Guidance
• Obtain unequivocal board commitment
• Implement those parts of the Guidance appropriate to the scale and type of business
• Review all agency and associated person arrangements to ensure that their contracts include anti-bribery provisions
• Review standard terms and conditions of doing business
• Educate your supply chain where necessary
• Adopt simple messages on invoices and purchase orders referring to your company’s stance on bribery
• Embed anti-bribery strategy in business planning
• Use good business ethics as a unique selling point to differentiate your business from your competitors
• Don’t be complacent. Happenstance may be closer than you think!
For further information, please contact:
Tel: 01483 811 234
About Interchange - www.interchange-solutions.co.uk
Formed in 2006, Interchange has an internationally experienced team of hands-on risk experts, all from a corporate background, operating exclusively in the field of mitigating bribery, corruption fraud and reputational risk.
Our sole focus is to help companies and organisations of all sizes and across all sectors underpin their reputation and enhance their business value by taking practical steps towards bribery risk mitigation while continuing to grow their business.
We work with customers across the world to understand and assess the specific risks they face and then help them to develop, implement and embed effective mitigation policies and processes into their business strategy.
We achieve this through a range of services and products, including executive education and briefings, risk based audits, training, policy, implementation process & documentation, and integrity due diligence of representatives and business partners, tailored to fit within your governance and risk management operating model.
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