What is the Impact of the UK ’s Bribery Act on Global Business?

By Information Retention Ediscovery Exchange, PRNE
Sunday, September 25, 2011

LONDON, September 26, 2011 -

The Bribery Act, which came into force in July 2011, makes “failing to prevent bribery” a criminal offence for commercial organisations. It not only applies to UK-based companies but also those conducting business in the country, as well as to any individual “associated” with such an enterprise. But what is the impact of the Bribery Act on global business?

Firms globally must implement a robust programme of compliance to minimise any risk of bribes being given or received. Thankfully, businesses will have a complete defence if they can prove that adequate procedures were in place to prevent associates undertaking such unlawful conduct.

The UK Ministry of Justice published long-awaited guidance to help organisations understand the types of procedures they can establish to reduce the risk of bribery by those associated with the company.

The first core principle outlined by the Ministry of Justice is that companies should maintain bribery prevention policies that are proportionate to the scale and complexity of their own activities. Firms are urged to ensure that senior management establishes an organisation-wide culture in which any form of bribe is deemed unacceptable. It also recommends periodic assessments of the internal and external risks of bribery in relevant sectors and markets.

Due diligence procedures are crucial to minimising risk and, since employees are most certainly counted as “associated” persons, should ideally become part of recruitment and hiring processes. It is also important that all auditing and financial controls are sensitive to bribery. Firms must ensure that prevention policies are adequately communicated across the organisation and embedded within all training activity.

The UK Serious Fraud Office (SFO) is already on the prowl for some high-profile cases to demonstrate its commitment to the prosecution of both companies and individuals caught up in allegations of bribery. The SFO is only concerned with breaches that occurred after the law came into force on July 1st.

Despite the expectation that UK authorities will cooperate with the SEC and the US Department of Justice on investigations, any charges imposed by the SFO will need to apply to new or ongoing cases of bribery or corruption. Unfortunately for many organisations globally, given their frequent use of intermediaries and dealings with state-owned enterprises abroad, high-profile cases in sectors such as defence, pharmaceuticals and energy will not be too hard to find.

A complete article about the impact of the UK Bribery Act is now available as a free download here: bit.ly/pkSJvb

The UK Bribery Act will also be discussed at this year’s Information Retention & eDiscovery Exchange, taking place 14 - 16 November 2011 in the Kempinski Hotel Airport, Munich. The Exchange will provide hands-on ‘how to’s’ from Europe’s leading litigators, advisors and technology providers to ensure organisations are properly positioned - and protected - for what lies ahead. For more information about the event visit bit.ly/qgO8Jf

Note to editors: for further information about the Information Retention & eDiscovery Exchange see bit.ly/qgO8Jf

Contact: Exchange Team, +44(0)207-368-9484, exchangeteam@iqpc.com


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