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Bribery and Corruption: Everything You Need to Know

25 November, 2019

Most people would claim that they could spot a bribe if they saw one. But not all bribes in business are as obvious as handing over a big briefcase filled with money. 

In the UK, bribery in the workplace is a serious problem with 71% of citizens considering corruption to be a major issue. There is a need to bring awareness to the differences between kindness and bribery, and to distinguish the very fine line between a gift and a bribe.

What is Bribery?

Bribery is a gesture intended to sway an individual’s decisions or actions by offering something of value. Bribes are often business-motivated and used to:

  • Keep or secure a contract or order with a business.
  • Gain an advantage over a competitor.
  • Secure a contract with a national, local or foreign official.
  • Make someone turn a blind eye to health and safety, poor performance, the substitution of materials or false labour chargers.
  • Falsify an inspection report to gain a certificate/accreditation.

As you can see a bribe can come in many forms, and for many reasons. By knowing what a bribe looks like, and why they are bribing you, you’ll be able to spot and stop it.

Unfortunately, even though you know what a bribe looks like, bribery within the workplace is often a grey area. After all, who’s to say what is a kind act and what is malicious?

A bribe can be more than just a monetary payment. For example, if an employer offers to fast-track a promotion, but only if you do something for them in return, then that is a bribe even though no money is changing hands.

What is the Bribery Act (2010)?

Since bribery is such a major problem, the Bribery Act (2010) was introduced to enhance and amend UK law on bribery, including foreign bribery, in order to better address the requirements of the 1997 OECD anti-bribery Convention. 

Internationally, the Bribery Act (2010) is among the most rigid legislation, introducing a tough liability offence for companies and partnerships who fail to prevent bribery.

The Bribery Act (2010) covers four prime offences:

  • Two general offences covering the promising or giving of an advantage, and requesting, agreeing to receive or accepting of an advantage.
  • A discrete offence of bribery of a foreign public official.
  • A new offence of failure by a commercial organisation to prevent a bribe being paid to obtain or retain business, or gain a business advantage (should an offence be committed it will be a defence that the organisation has adequate procedures in place to prevent bribery).

Some of these offences might be more applicable to your organisation than others, but this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t have an understanding of them.

What Are Anti-Bribery Best Practices?

Bribes can find their way to your staff at every level of your organisation, from giving a gift to a decision-maker on a deal to bribing a cleaner to stick an infected USB drive into your network. 

Preventing bribery and corruption in your organisation starts by raising awareness amongst your staff, teaching them best practices and what to do if they ever receive a bribe. Here are our top tips: 

  • If you receive a bribe, the first thing you should do is report it to your manager. Bribery relies on you keeping information to yourself, so don’t forget that your colleagues are around to help.
  • Remember, not all free things are bribes, free tea and coffee at a networking event isn’t a bribe. Bribery tends to be an illicit act, you needn’t worry about taking a free branded pen from a potential supplier or partner. 
  • Be suspicious of deals that are struck without correct oversight. Deals that are completed without discussion or approval can be a hotbed for corruption. 
  • Keep a keen eye out for red flags like payments offered in cash, and unusually high commissions or fees, which far exceed typical rates. Internal auditing of suspicious payments can avoid significant damage further down the line. 

To educate your staff about how to avoid bribery and corruption in your organisation, enrol your workforce on our Anti-Bribery course today.

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