Feeds

New anti-corruption offences come into force today

No backdown in biz bung crackdown

The Power of One Brief: Top reasons to choose HP BladeSystem

New anti-corruption laws come into force today, giving companies more certainty over what constitutes bribery but placing greater obligations on companies to tackle corruption.

A company could be responsible for bribery carried out by its employees without its knowledge or consent under the Bribery Act. It creates a new offence of failure to prevent bribery by people working for or on behalf of a business, but companies can escape liability if they show that they have "adequate procedures" designed to prevent bribery in place.

Under the Act, the maximum penalty for individuals found guilty of bribery will rise from seven to 10 years' imprisonment and an unlimited fine.

Previous anti-corruption laws were criticised as being too complicated and for not giving a clear enough definition of what constitutes bribery. The new law has been welcomed for its clarity.

In addition to creating new obligations for companies to have anti-corruption policies in place, the Act also creates the offence of bribing a foreign public official, even if that person has demanded a bribe.

UK companies and partnerships could be breaking the law no matter where the alleged acts of bribery take place. Foreign companies which operate in the UK could also face prosecution regardless of where the alleged bribery has taken place, unless the suspect activities are permitted locally.

The Act was due to come into force in April, but was delayed to give the government more time to review its guidance (45-page/390KB PDF) on the adequate procedures companies can put in place to prevent people associated with them from bribing.

The guidance provides six essential principles for companies to follow in order to ensure they comply with the new law: proportionate procedures; a top-level commitment ensuring that directors and staff are unified in fighting bribery; undertaking occasional risk assessments; checking out third parties such as intermediaries and subcontractors to ensure that they are honest; communicating anti-bribery policies to staff and providing staff training, monitoring and review.

A company could also be liable for the actions of associated people, which the Bribery Act lists as including recruitment firms, commercial agents, partners, consultants and subcontractors.

Last month a survey by business information company Thomson Reuters revealed that almost 40 per cent of UK businesses think their senior executives and board members are unprepared for the new law.

However, in order to be adequate, a company's procedures need only be proportionate to the risks that business faces as well as its size and resources.

"Much has been written about the draconian effects of the Bribery Act and the risks that it poses to UK businesses," said Barry Vitou, bribery law expert with Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind OUT-LAW.COM. "However, businesses that try their best to comply with the provisions of the Act, and which behave in an ethical manner, will have nothing to fear."

Copyright © 2011, OUT-LAW.com

OUT-LAW.COM is part of international law firm Pinsent Masons.

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications

More from The Register

next story
Arrr: Freetard-bothering Digital Economy Act tied up, thrown in the hold
Ministry of Fun confirms: Yes, we're busy doing nothing
ONE EMAIL costs mining company $300 MEEELION
Environmental activist walks free after hoax sent share price over a cliff
'Blow it up': Plods pop round for chat with Commonwealth Games tweeter
You'd better not be talking about the council's housing plans
Help yourself to anyone's photos FOR FREE, suggests UK.gov
Copyright law reforms will keep m'learned friends busy
Apple smacked with privacy sueball over Location Services
Class action launched on behalf of 100 million iPhone owners
UK government officially adopts Open Document Format
Microsoft insurgency fails, earns snarky remark from UK digital services head
You! Pirate! Stop pirating, or we shall admonish you politely. Repeatedly, if necessary
And we shall go about telling people you smell. No, not really
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable
Learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.