Adequate procedures guidance for compliance with UK Bribery Act
Anti-corruption NGO Transparency International UK, supported by FTI Consulting, Inc., the global business advisory firm, and Halcrow, the international infrastructure consultancy, has today published detailed Guidance to help companies meet the challenges of the new UK Bribery Act. The Bribery Act marks an historic step change in the UK’s fight against corporate bribery, most of whose victims are the poorest people in the poorest countries.
The Guidance, which includes case studies, sample policies and a step-by-step implementation checklist, is intended to provide comprehensive guidance for companies seeking to comply with the Bribery Act and maintain good practice anti-corruption procedures. Companies following the Guidance will, in the view of Transparency International, have implemented ‘adequate procedures’ for compliance with the Bribery Act.
The Guidance is based on the well-established Business Principles for Countering Bribery and other Transparency International tools that companies all over the world are already using to benchmark their anti-bribery systems.
The Bribery Act introduces an offence of corporate failure to prevent bribery, unless a company can prove that it had ‘adequate procedures’ in place to prevent bribery. The Secretary of State for Justice is required, by section 9 of the Bribery Act, to provide official guidance on ‘adequate procedures’. The corporate offence of failing to prevent bribery can only come into force after the Government’s guidance has been issued. It was originally envisaged that the official guidance would be issued on 1 July 2010, but the Government has recently announced a revised publication date of early 2011, and that the Bribery Act will come into force in April 2011.
If companies get it wrong, the new law means both companies and directors face potentially disastrous financial and reputational consequences. Unlimited fines will be imposed on companies and prisons sentences of up to ten years for directors.
Ian Trumper, Senior Managing Director at FTI Consulting, Inc. and Board Member of Transparency International UK, comments:
”The provisions of The Bribery Act represent a major step change towards the prosecution of companies and directors for failing to stop the payment of bribes. Effective corporate governance can no longer be seen as an aspiration. The Guidance is designed to help corporates take responsibility for implementing strong anti-corruption policies both to help them withstand any investigation into bribery claims, as well as play their part in eradicating corporate bribery in the long term.”
Chandrashekhar Krishnan, Executive Director of Transparency International UK, says:
”The new Bribery Act means that companies must embed ethical practices throughout their organisations or face potentially disastrous consequences. The best defence for companies is to adopt and enforce policies for zero tolerance of bribery supported by robust anti-bribery systems. But changing an organisation’s culture can’t be done overnight. That’s why we are making this Guidance available ahead of the Bribery Act’s commencement so that companies can get a head start.”
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