News & what's on - Written by on Wednesday, May 9, 2018 11:39 - 0 Comments

Killing a corpse and a shot in the foot: Skansen Interiors

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If the Skansen interiors bribery conviction is precedent for anything (and that is questionable) it may only be that you cannot make this stuff up.

It has been claimed that the case stands as a lesson to companies that they must make sure their anti-bribery policies are sufficiently robust.

We don’t think so.

In summary, senior employees engaged in bribery.  Those bribes were uncovered by new management who self reported the bribery to the authorities.

Individuals were guilty and the company was prosecuted for failure to prevent bribery. The only defence option open to the company was to argue that it had put in place Adequate Procedures to prevent bribery.  In view of this it was an unfortunate fact that it didn’t have any specific anti bribery policies or procedures.

Against that backdrop it’s unsurprising the company was convicted of failing to prevent bribery.

Perhaps more surprising is the decision to prosecute Skansen on its somewhat unique facts.

In addition to self reporting Skansen was a dormant company.

As a result Skansen couldn’t pay any fine – the only realistic punishment open to the court.

So what was the public interest in prosecuting?

Apparently the answer to this question is: to send a message to all corporates that they should have robust Adequate Procedures to prevent bribery.

We’re not convinced.  Accepting that Skansen does contain a lesson it appears to be this:

If you are a company, bribes are paid and you have no anti-bribery policies and procedures don’t be surprised if you are prosecuted and convicted for failure to prevent bribery.

Even if you (i) self reported and (ii) are already dead.

Opinion

Skansen was the corporate equivalent of a corpse at the time of its prosecution and its conviction simply amounts to unloading another round of shots into its lifeless body corporate.

If “don’t bother to self report” is the takeaway of the Skansen case for some corporates then on top of shooting a lifeless corpse the CPS also shot itself in the foot.

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