Businesses are being invited to have their say on guidance designed to help them implement legal measures designed to strengthen the UK’s stance against bribery.
The Bribery Act, which will take effect from April 2011, will encouragebusinesses to adopt robust anti-bribery safeguards. Its measures include:
- introducing a new corporate offence of failure to prevent bribery by persons working on behalf of a business, anywhere in the world. A business can avoid conviction if it can show that it has adequate procedures in place to prevent bribery.
- making it a criminal offence to give, promise or offer a bribe and to request, agree to receive or accept a bribe either at home or abroad. The measures cover bribery of a foreign public official.
- increasing the maximum penalty for bribery from seven to 10 years’ imprisonment, with an unlimited fine.
Ahead of the Bribery Act coming into force, the government has launched a consultation exercise on guidance on procedures that commercial organisations can put in place to prevent persons associated with them from bribing. The consultation runs until 9 November.
Businesses that export goods or have a presence overseas are among those being advised to start preparing now for the Bribery Act.
The UK is currently a respectable 17th out of 180 countries and territories ranked in Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index (CPI), which measures perceived levels of public sector corruption.
However, it is a major exporter and UK companies and subsidiaries are also present in many countries well down the CPI. The World Bank estimates that more than £1,000 billion is paid annually in bribes worldwide and industries in which UK businesses are involved – including aerospace, construction, defence and extraction – are known as high risk areas for bribery.
LINKS: Bribery Act Consultation