International - Written by on Monday, August 18, 2014 22:23 - 0 Comments

REVIEW: Transparency International – Small bribes, big problem: guidance for companies

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TIBribes_THUMBNAIL“Small bribes can come in many forms including:

Cash or vouchers, Benefits in-kind, such asTickets for a sporting event, Pre-paid phone cards, Alcohol, Tobacco, Perfume.

Typically, a bribe demander will use explicit or implied threats of delay, inconvenience, business cost or some other undesirable outcome. Bribes can also be solicited by an official with the inducement of a faster service, overlooking incomplete paperwork, or some other benefit, and may also be offered by the bribe payer to obtain such benefit.”

Describes the new guidance published by Transparency International.

Sound familiar?

Oh dear.

Small bribes are considered by many to be an insoluble problem.

Or at least insoluble by them.

The problem with this approach is that there is little or no attempt to address them.  In the meantime their continual payment simply fuels the fire of demands.

Bribes big or small are illegal under the Bribery Act.  So if your business is paying them then criminal offences are being committed by your company and you should read this guidance to find out how, and make a good faith effort, to *stop it*.

TI UK has usefully published Countering Small Bribes: Principles and good practice guidance for dealing with small bribes including facilitation payments which is a big help.

The guidance is focused on compliance and zero tolerance strategy and provides some very practical advice on addressing the challenge of countering small bribes including “grease payments” starting with a lengthy table which identifies some of them.

In fact there are a bunch of tables which are very helpful in identifying small bribes, suggesting some really practical ways of finding out what exposure there is in your business right up to some very very practical tips to give employees the where with all to avoid paying them.

The guidance includes:

  • 10 principles for countering small bribes
  • A section on assessing risk
  • Practical examples & case studies
  • Model negotiation steps for resisting demands

On strategies for countering demands – TI-UK suggests the following:

“If the employee feels it is safe to do so some or all of the following steps can be followed when a demand is made:

  • Use negotiation skills and remain calm despite provocation or harassment
  • Ask a colleague or fellow traveller to stand nearby as this may discourage an approach if the discussion is being listened to by another
  • If the discussions are in your facility such as a meeting room or on your ship consider video recording all transactions and inform the official that you do this as standard practice
  • Take detailed notes of conversations – with whom and what was said
  • Keep any papers or documents given to you
  • Clarify what is being asked for
  • Question the legitimacy of the request and ask the official where the requirement for the ‘fee’ is displayed or stated
  • Refuse to pay if the official cannot supply official validity of the ‘fee’
  • Make the point in a personalised and soft way that making such a payment would cause problems for the employee: ‘I’ll get into real trouble’ etc
  • If the official still demands the payment, ask to see the official’s supervisor
  • If that is refused, or if the supervisor also asks for payment and it is clear there will be no movement by the officials on the demand, offer to pay the fee subject to being given an official receipt – a formal document on official paper that identifies the official’s name and relevant identification number if appropriate
  • If the official refuses to provide a receipt, restate willingness to pay the fee but only with a receipt
  • If no receipt is forthcoming, telephone the local embassy and make clear to the official demanding the bribe that this is being done and the employee will wait until the official approves or makes the action which is the official’s duty to carry out
  • Having exhausted all methods and still not having gained approval from the official then, with the prior support given by management for such an outcome, decide to accept the consequences of delay or loss of goods. However, if the demand is accompanied by a threat to life, limb and liberty of the employee or others working in a country then the employee should not resist the demand
  • If possible, get written statements corroborating the demand of a payment as this may be needed if the official claims the employee initiated the attempt to bribe
  • Report the incident to the company as soon as possible
  • Record any payment made accurately in the accounts with a clear description of its purpose”

It doesn’t get much more practical than this.  In fact the guidance is packed choc full of useful tips.

If employees of your business are potentially being placed in harms way by the business so that they may have demands for small bribes made of them – then you really should be helping them by incorporating some of the suggestions in the guidance into your own anti-bribery training.

TI UK says that the guidance is designed for law enforcement too.

That means that they are expecting law enforcement to read it.  If one day you are in the unfortunate position of being investigated TI UK hope the SFO or others will ask the question did you use it in your program?  If the answer is no (or worse you didn’t even read it) then expect a that box not to get checked…

‘When a company pays a bribe of any size, it reinforces a culture of graft which is exceptionally damaging to the economies and societies in which they are paid’ says Robert Barrington, Executive Director of Transparency International UK.

We agree.

Is anyone comfortable propping up a system of corruption which means that in some places the locals have to ‘grease the nurse’ to get to see their new born child?

Thought not.  We strongly suggest you read the guidance and hat tip to DLA and FTI for following in our footsteps and sponsoring this one.

Our rating: 5/5 a must read.  And it’s free, what’s not to like.

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