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UK Bribery Act 2010

On 8 April 2010, the Bribery Act was passed into law in the UK with the new legislation coming into force on 1 July 2011. Under the provisions of the Act, the enforcement authorities have at their disposal new and more easily applied offences which UK companies will need to factor into their risk management processes.

The Act contains two general offences of paying and receiving bribes along with a specific offence of bribing a foreign government official. Most significantly for companies, the Act contains a new corporate offence of failing to prevent a bribe being paid on their behalf by an “associated” person. Associated persons could include not only employees, agents or subsidiaries but a wide group of parties who perform services on behalf of a company creating a potentially significant risk of liability for a company under the Act.

An affirmative defence is available to companies who can demonstrate that they have “adequate” procedures” in place designed to prevent bribery. Companies need to ensure therefore that they have procedures in place to monitor and control the activities of all associated parties.

Examples of some of the elements of an anti-corruption programme

  • The company should have an anti-corruption policy in place that is visibly and consistently supported by senior management creating the appropriate “tone from the top”.
  • Anti-corruption procedures and controls should be embedded in the company’s day to day business processes.
  • The company should provide regular training on its anti-corruption procedures to its employees and associates.
  • The company should monitor its employees and associates compliance with anti-corruption procedures for example through Internal Audit visits and/or data interrogation techniques.
  • The company should have a mechanism in place to allow employees and associates to report suspicions of corrupt activity in a confidential manner, for example through a telephone hotline.

If you would like further information or support on this topic please contact Nic Carrington or Peter Maher.

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