The Bribery Act & preventative measures
7th April 2011
You can’t have failed to see the reports about the Bribery Act in the past week.
After Justice Secretary Ken Clarke announced on 30th March that the Bribery Act will come into force on 1 July, businesses are rapidly pushing anti-corruption practices to the top of their agendas.
In summary the Bribery Act 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
From my research, 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 last week 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 obervation 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. Isn’t that what you call a ‘win-win’ situation?