We've received a steady stream of enquiries from members over the last few months about the Bribery Act. This new UK bribery law is due to come into force on 1 July and it's clear that many businesses are struggling to come to terms with the full impact of its implementation.
The Bribery Act is a piece of criminal legislation creating a new corporate crime of failing to prevent bribery. Companies need to assess the risks of bribery throughout their operations and then implement 'adequate procedures' to control those risks.
Companies will commit a new offence of 'failing to prevent bribery' if any employee or associate commits bribery with the intention of gaining a business advantage for the company, and the company failed to put 'adequate procedures' in place to prevent it. It does not matter if the company knew nothing about the bribery – the emphasis is on the procedures the company has in place, rather than its awareness of what was going on.
But what exactly will this involve? Is having an anti-bribery statement sufficient? How far do you need to vet your overseas agents? What about your supply chain? And what does the UK's tough stance on bribery and corruption mean for 'routine' business practices, including corporate hospitality?
Is Government guidance on the Bribery Act enough?
The government has produced guidance on the Bribery Act, but it is not prescriptive. The guidance is supplemented by 11 case studies, a surprisingly high number of which involve manufacturers. Does this mean that manufacturers will be particularly under the spotlight? If so, then surely doing nothing in response to the Bribery Act - or adopting a wait and see approach - will be a risky policy.
Companies need to understand what compliance with the Bribery Act means in practice.
It's not easy for companies to access support from experts with both criminal and corporate governance experience. So with this in mind, we've partnered with Siemens Plc and corporate defence specialists Squire Sanders Hammonds to hold two half day seminars. They're particularly relevant to MDs, CEOs, Finance Directors and other board members, as well as people in your business who are responsible for auditing and compliance. I invite you all to join us there to explore how the Bribery Act will impact on our sector.
Delegates who attend will also be eligible for discounted access to a full compliance kit produced by Squire Sanders Hammonds, including an anti-bribery policy, a presentation to the board, a statement of intent to post on your web-site, an agents due diligence checklist and example clauses for third party agent contracts.
Our seminars are on 19th and 21st July - so there's only limited time left to secure your place - and your business.