Bribery and corruption

The UK Bribery Act 2010 entered into force on 1 July 2011, and is generally considered to be one of the toughest bribery regimes worldwide. There are four offences under the Act:

1. Bribing another person.
2. Accepting a bribe.
3. Bribing a foreign public official.
4. Failure to prevent bribery.

Individuals who are found guilty of a bribery offence under the Act will face up to ten years’ imprisonment and an unlimited fine. Companies that are found guilty of the corporate offence of failing to prevent bribery will have to pay an unlimited fine, and directors associated with a bribery offence could be disqualified.

All companies should be concerned about the corporate offence of failing to prevent bribery. The offence will have a significant impact on the operation and management of companies connected to the UK, both in terms of compliance and non-compliance.

Companies must show that there is a culture of commitment against bribery from the top down. It is advisable for the CEO of a company to make a personal statement supporting the business’ anti-bribery regime. Furthermore, senior officers and directors must be fully on board with the company’s bribery regime and must be aware of any issues that arise (policies, training, amending contracts (including employment contracts); how companies deal with suppliers / customers / contractors and so on will all form part of this). It is also advisable to appoint a senior officer to oversee and audit the bribery regime.