International - Written by on Tuesday, July 19, 2011 0:28 - 0 Comments

Ambassador, are you spoiling us? UK launches new overseas assistance for business

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By Neil McInnes, Senior Associate – Pinsent Masons LLP (photo editor Barry…)

Last week we went to the launch party of the new government web service, Overseas Business Risk. It replaces OSIB – Overseas Security Information for Business – and provides information for companies on security and business risks – including corruption – in a number of overseas markets.

Designed principally for SMEs, it is a jointly run project of UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) and the Foreign & Commonwealth Office, with information sourced from UK diplomatic missions and, we understand, other parts of government such as SOCA.

So far so good.  And don’t get us wrong.  Setting up in a new market and worried about possible Bribery Act liability going in?

This is a website which is worth checking out and it contains some helpful information about corruption in different jurisdictions.

But…and there is a but.  Some of it does fall into the category of ‘motherhood and apple pie’.

The UK government have invited feedback from users on how to develop, improve and expand content.

Some suggestions from us:

  • a more detailed analysis of key corruption risks per territory (for example, local customary hospitality that may require special attention given the new UK regime);
  • detailed references to relevant local laws on corruption;
  • local know-how on facilitation payment risks or where to find guidance;
  • details of sector based organisations at a regional level who might support a business in resisting any demands for facilitation payments;
  • a clear statement of the resources available at the local UK Post or Embassy or within UKTI to assist with any reporting of demands for bribes or any support offered to due diligence enquiries of local business partners or agents.

Our verdict?

Good effort.  We’re looking forward to version 1.2.

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