Facilitation payments - Written by Barry & Richard on Tuesday, June 21, 2011 2:33 - 1 Comment
Facilitation payments: SFO endorse SFO & thebriberyact.com six step solution
We recently wrote about facilitation payments and our dialogue with the SFO on the topic.
Our discussion resulted in a six step solution which features prominently on this website.
At a speech this morning Richard Alderman endorsed the six step solution we feature.
Setting the scene and emphasising the importance Mr.Alderman attaches to understanding and having visibility on any any such payments being made. In particular he alluded to the possibility that simply creating a policy with an outright ban on such payments might drive them underground rather than achieve the desired objective of curbing them and/or stamping them out in practice. Mr. Alderman said:
“I am looking for companies to adopt a zero tolerance approach to these payments. Indeed I know a number of these companies that tell me that they have got a zero tolerance approach. My concern about this though is how much visibility they actually have about these payments. I hear stories, for example, of services being provided by agents at border posts, visa offices etc. Some of the bills from the agents may be described in general terms. How certain is the company that the bill from the agent does not include facilitation payments made by the agent? Are these payments being pushed underground?
What I have said to companies, therefore, is this. I know in fact that there are various companies that are sure that facilitation payments are not being made. It is very important that nothing that the SFO does in any way undermines that very strong approach. I want other companies to aspire to that. What this means is that I recognise that these payments are not going to come to an end everywhere immediately on 1 July. I have said publicly that what I am looking for is for companies to commit themselves to ensuring that these payments are stopped over a certain period of time after which they will have zero tolerance. I have said that I will expect companies to tell us what they are doing here so that we know they are genuinely committed to this and are genuinely working on phasing out facilitation payments.
I have also encouraged sector led initiatives here. I think these are very important and I applaud the work of those companies that are working together with others in order to be able to solve these difficult and deep seated problems. I see evidence of companies working together and with the authorities of the relevant country to phase out these problems. I encourage this and I would like to see companies become involved in this type of action wherever appropriate. This type of action taken by corporations is most likely to have an impact and to resolve the issue.
I have said publicly that I shall be happy for companies to get on with moving towards zero tolerance over a reasonable period of time provided that they let us know what is happening.”
Emphasising the six step solution published on thebriberyact.com he said:
“We have given some guidance in the form of a few principles which are now set out in a website that you may be familiar with called thebriberyact.com.
This sets out our general approach to facilitation payments. I was very grateful for the opportunity to contribute to that website on this topic and indeed I am very grateful for all that the distinguished authors have done in raising awareness of Bribery Act issues.”
We are happy to provide further information on implementing the six step solution.
Image © Crown Copyright 2011