Businesses Expect Tougher Stance On Corruption

The crack down on corruption is on the rise, according to 78 per cent of business professionals taking part in a Deloitte webcast on the implications of the US’s Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) in the BRIC countries. A similarly large number (73 per cent) of those professionals, however, say they are unfamiliar with the provisions of the UK Bribery Act. 

‘Businesses have less than three months to revise their anti-bribery compliance programs and retrain their employees before the UK Bribery Act becomes enforceable on July 1,’ says Joe Zier, a partner in Deloitte’s Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) consulting division. 

Deloitte is calling the Bribery Act ‘the largest regulatory change in global anticorruption law since the US Patriot Act 2001′ and the global reach of the provisions could have far-reaching implications for companies previously only concerned with the FCPA. 

‘Now is the time for boards, chief executives and senior management to get together and refresh their anticorruption compliance programs to ensure that ‘business as usual’ today isn’t a UK Bribery Act violation in July,’ Zier adds.

To some extent, being unaware of the UK provisions does not warrant all out panic from the global business community. Only companies carrying on a business, or part of a business, in the UK will be subject to the legislation. What’s more, the UK government issued guidance in March saying that neither a listing in London nor a UK-based subsidiary will by itself be enough for a company to satisfy this criterion.  

But while the appetite for enforcing the legislation appears to be low in the UK, or at least inside the government, the 1,000 plus business professionals polled by Deloitte would do well to remember that the question of interpreting and enforcing the new legislation would ultimately be a matter for the Serious Fraud Office and the UK courts.