Scottish companies will be barred from bidding for public sector contracts if they are found to be linked to anyone convicted of bribery or serious organised crime.
The ‘guilt by association’ legislation comes into effect on May 1 2012. Companies that have failed to implement adequate procedures to prevent bribery as required by the Bribery Act 2010 are now at risk of being barred.
According to anti-corruption training expert Sarah Dougan, the implications for directors are significant. A third party could be a supplier, a contractor, an agent or even a client, so it’s vital to understand the legislation and take steps to make sure your company is protected.
“This legislation can’t be ignored,” says Dougan. “All directors, including non-executives, should have evidence that anti-bribery policies are fully implemented across the organisation. Directors who think they’re safe because they’re hiding behind an impenetrable wall of policy manuals are deluded.”
Dougan is managing director of the E-Security Exchange, which specialises in delivering online training in anti-bribery and corruption and providing companies with policies and audit trails to identify corrupt activities and monitor third party activity.
She says :”It’s imperative that companies conduct due diligence on their intermediaries, partners and agents. Companies that cannot provide satisfactory answers to the following questions are at risk. Are agency and partner agreements properly documented and not simply established to win some imminent business? Is there a genuine business justification for their appointment? Can this be demonstrated by credible business targets set in agreements that are founded in the overall sales strategy and budgets?
“It needn’t be a costly exercise, and those companies who conduct effective due diligence can use it as a business driver, a differentiator, that will help them win new business and also deliver shareholder value.”
But it’s clear that knowledge about the implications of the anti-bribery legislation is scarce. A survey by Deloitte highlights that very few executives are confident about the effectiveness of their anti-corruption policies.
The November 2011 survey revealed just 29 per cent of executives were confident their company’s anti-corruption policies would prevent or detect corrupt activities.
The activities of third parties were seen as the greatest source of corruption risk, considered to be a significant risk by 52 per cent, with 43 per cent considered identifying and monitoring third party relationships was a significant challenge, more than for any other issues.
Yet only 41 per cent said their company regularly conducted due diligence with third parties in foreign countries that interact with foreign government officials and just nine per cent said they conducted detailed monitoring of third parties to check they comply with the company anti-corruption requirements.
And the penalties are harsh. Over and above the Scottish Government’s latest ruling, there are massive fines, the possibility of a custodial sentence, and now the Serious Fraud Office has the power to make a civil recovery of all shareholder dividends that have been issued by a company found to be guilty of corruption.
Says Dougan:” The signal to investors is clear; when evaluating a request from any organisation that seeks your investment, do your due diligence on their anti-bribery and corruption procedures carefully or you could stand to lose a significant amount of money.”
Notes to editors:
- E-Security Exchange works in association with the Institute of Directors in Scotland who market the e-learning materials to their members.
- Clients include: Selex Galileo, Darcy Technologies Ltd, Skills Development Scotland, Scottish Enterprise and Ellerton Training. In addition, E-Security Exchange has recently completed a project for a state-owned organisation in Asia with 145,000 employees.
- Deloitte Survey: Anti-Corruption Practices Survey November 2011 'Cloudy with a Chance of Prosecution'.
- Please contact: Michelle Rodger, 0780 3730207 (email@example.com) for further information.