Bribery Act Provisions Not Known to Most Enterprises

Lucas Gilmore, “Big 4″ observer
April 23, 2011 /

The recent webcast sponsored by Deloitte to discuss UK Bribery Act compliance programs of companies has revealed a “surprising” result based on responses from more than a thousand business professionals from various industries.

While 78 percent of respondents expected a large global anti-corruption enforcement in 2012, 73 percent admitted they were not familiar with most of the provisions in the UK Bribery Act slated for implementation on July 1.

Deloitte said the new regulatory measure would be the largest “change in global anti-corruption law since the U.S. Patriot Act in 2001.”

The claim goes parallel with PricewaterhouseCoopers’s statement on December 2010 that even Christmas gifts of a gold fountain pen or a case of champagne could mean bribery under the new regulations.

Critics warned that the strict provisions in the UK Bribery Act could likely hamper establishing business ties between UK firms and overseas companies as even little offers given by companies to build up good relationships with other firms could be construed as bribery under the Act.

The Bribery Act provides that any “offer, promise or give a financial advantage or other advantage, to another person to bring about improper performance of a relevant function or an activity, or to reward a person for the improper performance of a relevant function or an activity” could be construed as bribery.

Joe Zier, a leader in Deloitte’s Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) consulting services practice, noted that companies have less than three months to revamp their anti-bribery compliance programs and retrain their employees before the enforcement of the Bribery Act on July.

“Some companies began work early to prepare for compliance. Going forward, organizations should focus on expanding their anti-corruption programs beyond FCPA to fully address the new Bribery Act 2010 provisions,” Zier said.

Of the six principles for anti-bribery efforts, Zier identified “risk assessment and due diligence” as the two areas that are trickier to contend with.

He said “companies need to be vigilant of where their potential risks lie and investigate them fully to identify new exposures.”

Boards of directors, chief executives and senior management need to work together this time and revise their anti-bribery compliance programs so that the ‘business as usual’ attitude today might not mean a violation against the Bribery Act, Zier added.

Respondents to the webcast consist of consumer and industrial products; technology, media and telecommunications; banking and securities; aerospace and defense and other industries responded to the polling questions during the webcast.

 

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