Bribery Act & Proceeds of Crime - Written by on Wednesday, December 14, 2011 15:13 - 0 Comments

The Bribery Act – having an impact on facilitation payments or just hype?

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We recently hosted the Director of the Serious Fraud Office, Richard Alderman, in our offices when he spoke to the UK Contractors Group.  We worked with UKCG to prepare an anti-bribery code of conduct for its members.

In his speech Richard Alderman spoke of the steps being undertaken by corporates to stamp out bribery and in particular facilitation payments.  Here is an extract of what he had to say:

“…Corporations…are asking themselves is what are the underlying problems and how do we try to eliminate the demand for bribes?  What they are also asking themselves is how do they work with other corporations including their competitors and including corporations based elsewhere in finding resolutions.  I have had a number of accounts of circumstances in which radical improvements have been possible.  For example, bureaucracy which involves many different steps and human intervention on each occasion can be an enabler of corruption.  States that do not pay their employees and expect them to finance themselves from bribes are  obviously ones where there is going to be serious corruption.  What are corporations doing in those circumstances?

I hear of cases where corporations work with relevant authorities in foreign countries on for example a publicly accessible scale of tariffs for various services where those tariffs are open to all and not just to the companies that have agreed them.  I hear that the money that goes to the authority is channelled back to employees to provide them with a living wage.  And I hear as well of cases where automation is used through new IT systems provided by corporations to eliminate the numerous instances of potential human intervention.

…I find it particularily inspiring because the private sector is taking the lead themselves.”

There are some who will disbelieve these statements (along with the enforcement threats) of the SFO and that is their choice.

However, we are aware that real strides are being made by corporations in the UK in good faith efforts to deal with facilitation payments along these and similar lines.  We have given advice to help them.

These attempts do not stop at UK shores.  Last week in Houston we were extremely impressed about the steps being taken by corporations outside the UK as a result of the entry into force of the Bribery Act.

The take away: it may not be easy, but the Bribery Act is having an impact globally on corporates attitudes toward the payment of facilitation payments.

Any business which decides not to make good faith efforts to resist facilitation payments in line with the guidance issued by the Serious Fraud Office runs a real risk that whistle-blowing competitors will complain that they are suffering an unfair disadvantage.

That is their choice.

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