Recent research suggests that there has been a poor response and little acknowledgement of tough new corporate bribery laws introduced last year.
Marking the first anniversary of the Bribery Act, the study carried out by accountancy firm Ernst & Young revealed that nearly three quarters of North West middle managers haven’t even heard of the Bribery Act.
The survey also found that 47 per cent of those that had heard of the Act, said they had not received enough training to ensure compliance with it.
The Act came into effect on 1 July 2011 and aims to combat bribery in the UK and internationally. It is applicable to all UK citizens, residents and companies established under UK law, although it is wider ranging than previous years as it covers both the public and private sectors and creates the following four offences:
- Active bribery: promising or giving financial or other advantage.
- Passive bribery: agreeing to receive or accepting financial or other advantage.
- Bribery of foreign public officials.
- The failure of commercial organisations to prevent bribery by an associated person (corporate offence).
An individual or company can be prosecuted for the above offences if they are committed abroad and where the individual or company has a “close connection” to the UK. Furthermore, non-UK companies can be held liable for failure to prevent bribery if they do business in the UK.
Despite the new legislation, the study showed that 54% of UK executives would not rule out unethical activities to survive the recession. Findings also revealed that those who would provide personal gifts to secure business almost doubled in two years. A few even said they would give cash payments to win or retain business during the downturn.
Further guidance on the Bribery Act can be found on the Ministry of Justice’s website. Visit: http://www.justice.gov.uk/legislation/bribery