International - Written by on Monday, May 6, 2013 10:42 - 0 Comments

News from the G20 & a message to the UK government: Don’t choke now.

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A couple of weeks ago Barry attended and spoke at the G20 anti corruption conference.

As you would expect attendees came from the ranks of government and big business.  We could write a summary of the outcomes from the event but we’ll let you read those for yourself – if you’re interested – in the summary embedded at the foot of this post.

Our takeaways:

It’s only just begun…

For those who think that anti-bribery efforts and news is “so yesterday” – think again.  This group are of the mindset it has barely started.  Various attendees likened the development of the anti-bribery world as on a similar trajectory, but less far advanced, to the anti-money laundering world.

Carrots and sticks

There was a lot of talk about the use of carrots and sticks to increase compliance (in fact that was the panel Barry spoke on).

Some took the view that people should comply anyway and so the focus should be on enforcement and sticks.

“The fines aren’t big enough”.

Others spoke of the need for bigger sticks.

We have to say that this argument resonates against a backdrop of continuing violations and a general and apparent apathy when it comes to compliance which, has for example, been apparent in the context of a variety of surveys.

As ever balance is required.  Though there is room for debate.

We do think there is plenty of opportunity for business to help itself.  Are you a big business worried about the compliance of your SME supply chain?

Conduct decent diligence on it.  Those that pass get the job, those that don’t won’t.

Incentivise compliance by linking it more directly with procurement – perhaps even dare we say it improve payment terms for suppliers with the best compliance.  There are plenty of innovative things which can be done for very little.  Where there is a will there is a way…

Exemptions for SME’s

Mike Cherry of the Federation of Small Businesses plugged the ‘special’ problems facing SME’s.

Mr. Cherry noted that views around the Bribery Act vary but that general awareness good. He said there was some feeling of helplessness around the Bribery Act (Ed: there’s plenty of help out there)

Noting that SME’s had no chance of being able to control agents beyond basic checks (Ed: really?), that SME’s don’t have the ability to control them he said that it was wholly wrong to hold business responsible for third party liability.

On the subject of facilitation payments he noted that we should not be making small businesses liable – though he later ‘clarified’ (when asked if the FSB was looking for a carve out on facilitation payments) to say that a bribe is a bribe is a bribe and they should not be legalised.

Either way the FSB comments chime with other comments made in a Parliamentary Committee recently and we anticipate that the government will shortly announce a review in line with the suggestion earlier this year – in view of the various criticisms made.

Opinion

There’s still plenty to do.

From a UK perspective, the proof of the pudding remains in the eating.

Noises coming from Westminster are not wholly supportive.  With the SME business lobby criticizing various aspect of the Bribery Act and Parliament recommending a review – the UK government should not choke now…


G20 conclusions

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