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The Bribery Act 2010 and your business

From the 1st July 2011 the Bribery Act 2010 comes into law. The Act is concerned with bribery. Very generally, this is defined as giving someone a financial or other advantage to encourage that person to perform their functions or activities improperly or to reward that person for having already done so. So this could cover seeking to influence a decision-maker by giving some kind of extra benefit to that decision maker rather than by what can legitimately be offered as part of a tender process.

The Act will have most impact on businesses that export to areas that are considered to be high risk areas. The Act will however also cover businesses that operate in high risk sectors of the UK economy such as construction and financial services.

The Act is causing a great deal of concern with various business bodies such as the Federation of Small Businesses, in part due to the impact on the SME sector having the resources to implement procedures and monitor behaviour of staff and business partners.

One area that stands out as an issue is the amount that can be spent on corporate hospitality. Guidance from the Ministry of Justice suggests that reasonable and proportionate expenditure is the key issue. How that is to be measured is unclear.

For the majority of businesses a simple anti-bribery statement of policy included in a staff handbook would be a good start.

For a copy of the Ministry of Justice quick start guide for SMEs visit www.justice.gov.uk and for advice on country profiles and due diligence checks visit www.business-anti-corruption.com

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