The Bribery Act updates the existing UK laws on bribery offences and also creates some new ones, including the strict liability corporate offence of ‘failing to prevent bribery’. Helpfully, however, the Government’s guidance published in support of the Act recommends certain risk-based procedures that commercial organisations should put in place to avoid being caught out by the new corporate offence.
Bribery occurs when someone offers, seeks or accepts a payment, gift or favour that influences a business outcome improperly. Designed to reform the criminal law of bribery, the 2010 Act covers the offences of bribing another person and accepting a bribe. It also expands the law to create a new offence for commercial organisations of failing to prevent bribery by associated persons acting on the organisation’s behalf anywhere in the world.
Get it wrong and the penalties are severe. Organisations prosecuted for the new corporate offence which have failed to implement a programme designed to prevent bribery could be hit with an unlimited fine and serious reputational damage. Directors, senior managers, the company secretary or other similar officers at these organisations can also face a 10-year prison sentence and/or an unlimited fine for offences under the Act. With the Act now in force, it is crucial for businesses to avoid falling foul of the new legislation.
Wragge & Co’s experts are on hand to guide organisations through the new rules and to advise on how best to mitigate the risks posed by them. In this guide they provide answers to the burning Bribery Act questions, plus useful points to consider when assessing risk. Finally, for those with an anti-bribery policy now in place, take a look at our handy checklist to identify any potential loopholes.