Just as the U.S. continues to crack down on foreign bribery claims, the government in the United Kingdom is doing its part as well to cut down on worldwide corruption.
The U.K. has instituted guidelines for the nation’s businesses to follow the Bribery Act, a law passed in 2013 that updated bribery regulations dating back to 1889. The Act is scheduled to go into effect on July 1.
The new guidelines add a whole host of offenses that will now result in a guilty charge against a company, including offering or receiving a bribe, bribing a foreign public official, or failing to prevent a bribe paid on the organization’s behalf. According to BusinessInsurance.com, the scope of the new law will also expand bribery charges to not only the company itself, but also where bribery is committed directly by or on behalf of suppliers or joint ventures in a way that directly benefits the company.
Think your company is safe because it is headquartered in the U.S. and only conducts business in Britain? According to the 45-page guidelines, that will not be the case. The guidelines state that these laws apply to any company that does business in the U.K., not just ones located there.
Because of the short time span, risk and compliance officers for companies that do businesses in the U.K. should start checking their internal controls immediately to make sure that they are compliant with the Bribery Act. “Businesses now need to use the next three months to revise their anti-bribery policies (to be) ready for the act’s implementation,” said Katja Hall chief policy director of the Confederation of British Industry, in a statement to BusinessInsurance.com.
It remains to be seen whether penalties for the U.K. Bribery Act will reach the staggering heights at which the U.S. government has penalized Foreign Corrupt Practices Act violations in recent days. Within the guidelines, the U.K. Ministry of Justice simply says that penalties are “unlimited” and that jail terms for running afoul of the law can be as great as 10 years.
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