The UK’s Bribery Bill has received royal assent and the UK now has a Bribery Act that is arguably the toughest anti-corruption law in the world and it is likely to affect the construction industry in particular, because of the international operations of its business.
David Lawler, Partner at Forensic Risk Alliance – a leading expert in investigation fraud, bribery and corruption in the UK and around the world – warns that this bill will be taken seriously and heavy fines and prosecution of managers in business will ensue. “We believe that companies must take urgent action to get their house in order and these are some key actions to take” says Lawler:
“1. Set the right tone from the top. The CEO and top management team must understand the new environment and commit their organisation to compliance and openness.
“2. Every company must appoint a ‘bribery-czar’ with responsibility for corporate policy, rules and communications. A ‘profit at all costs’ message will result in bribes to cut corners further down the organisation.
“3. Check the high risk places. These are places where business has interactions with any government officials, on both the purchase and sales side. Look more widely to include state-owned businesses (UK banks, healthcare workers in China etc) as well as the more obvious customs officers, tax officials, visa agents.
“4. Ensure all sales agents, distributors, advisers (legal, tax etc) and business partners (which have now become every companies’ responsibility) are complying.
“5. Contracts with all agents should include compliance, making this a condition of doing business with the company.
“6. Retain the right to audit business partner’s practices to ensure that you can’t be found guilty by their actions. Turning a blind eye – even for junior managers – is no defence.
“7. Finally controls relating to approval of payments need to be best-of-breed. This may well require specialist advisers,” concludes Lawler.