Companies are advised to implement anti-bribery programmes and provide training for employees on the new legislation. First step needs be a risk assessment, experts advise.
Nic Carrington, partner in Deloitte’s forensic & dispute services team, says: “One of the most significant issues facing companies in their implementation of an effective anti-bribery programme will be to ensure that their management and staff in overseas operations properly understand that local custom and practice will be no defence under the new UK law and that consequently their actions may give rise to significant corporate and individual liabilities back in the UK.
“Unless properly trained and followed through, it may be easy for management and staff to dismiss new policy documents as not relevant to their local operations and what they perceive as the realities of conducting business on the ground. A meaningful anti-bribery risk assessment must therefore fully engage with overseas operations to identify all the risk areas that are faced and an effective training programme will be critical.”
His colleague Kirsty Searles, partner in Deloitte’s anti-bribery and corruption controls team, adds: “Larger corporates with in-house legal and compliance teams have made good progress on implementing structured programmes to achieve Bribery Act compliance. However, our experience suggests that mid cap (FTSE 250) and smaller sized entities are not making such rapid progress, which may be expected given the typical lack of such capabilities in-house. There will be a comparatively greater burden on these companies to get up to speed on compliance. It is likely that many of these businesses will not have established “Adequate Procedures” by 1 July 2011, and, therefore, will be looking at a period of time without a defence if prosecuted for the corporate offence under the Bribery Act.
“For those taking their first steps, the key will be to undertake a risk assessment to understand where exposures lie in the organisation, and then implement appropriate policies and processes to ensure compliance. These measures should be proportionate to the size of the organisation and the specific risk exposures in line with the Bribery Act’s guidelines. Senior management need to clearly communicate the organisation’s lack of tolerance for bribery and corruption, and the requirement that all staff must be aware of, and comply with, anti-bribery and corruption policies and procedures.”