The Bribery Act 2010 (the Act) came into force from 1 July 2011. It introduced changes in UK law that will apply to Sonin (referred to as the Company here within) and the Managers in relation to business transacted both in the UK and abroad, in that the Act:
extends the crime of bribery to cover all private sector transactions (previously bribery offences were confined to transactions involving public officials and agents);
creates under Section 7 a new corporate strict liability offence of failing to prevent bribery. A company will only have a defence to this offence if it can show it had “adequate procedures” in place to prevent bribery;
is extensive in scope – the offences are very broadly defined and the Act has significant extra-territorial reach. The Act applies to companies that do business in whole or in part in the UK and will cover direct bribery offences committed outside the UK if the person committing the relevant act or omission has a “close connection” with the UK, by virtue of being a British national, or ordinarily resident in the UK, or a body incorporated in the UK. Further, the requirement for a close connection with the UK does not apply in the case of the Section 7 corporate offence. A relevant commercial organisation will be liable for an associated person’s bribery, regardless of the associated person’s nationality and regardless of where the bribery occurred;
The offences of Bribery
Bribery may be seen as the offering, promising, giving, accepting or soliciting of a financial or other advantage (often on an undisclosed or secret basis) as an inducement or reward for an action which is illegal, improper or a breach of trust. Corruption is the type of relationship brought about by bribery.
There are four offences under the Act; two general offences of paying and receiving bribes; one of bribing foreign public officials with the intention of securing business or a business advantage, and the new “corporate offence” referred to above, concerning the failure of commercial organisations to prevent bribery. It should be noted that the making of “facilitation payments” (i.e small bribes or “grease payments” paid to facilitate routine government or official action) are clearly prohibited under the Act. This is the case no matter how small the payment or how well-established the practice is in any jurisdiction, unless permitted by applicable written local law, which will be rare.
The offences contained in the Act carry criminal penalties for individuals and organisations. For individuals, a maximum prison sentence of ten years and/or an unlimited fine can be imposed; for companies, an unlimited fine can be imposed.
Zero tolerance approach to bribery and corruption
The Company and its Managers have a zero tolerance to bribery and corruption and are committed to acting professionally, fairly and with integrity in their business dealings and relationships, implementing and enforcing effective systems to counter bribery.
The zero tolerance to bribery extends to all the Company’s and Managers’ business dealings and transactions in all countries in which they and their associates operate. The Company and its Managers expect that their business counter parties similarly adopt effective policies to counter bribery and corruption in their own dealings. Third parties include any individual or organisation doing business with the Company or its Managers, or with whom an officer of the Company or a staff member of the Managers comes into contact during the course of their work for the Company, and include actual and potential members, customers, suppliers, distributors, business contacts, correspondents, agents, service providers, advisers, brokers and government and public bodies, including their advisors, representatives and officials, politicians and political parties. In short if it is not legally permissible for the Company or Managers to perform a particular transaction, it is similarly impermissible for such third parties to do so in the course of their business relationship with the Company/Managers.
The company procedures to counter bribery address the following:-
The payment of a bribe or facilitation payment on the part of a Member may operate to deprive the Member of cover in respect of that payment.
Any act of bribery or corruption may lead to criminal penalties as well as the termination of the Company’s business relationship with any party committing such an act.
Prohibition of ‘facilitation’ ‘kickbacks’ or ‘grease’ payments, either directly or indirectly, by any third party on the Company’s or Managers’ behalf.
Political donations or contributions made in an attempt to influence any political decision or gain a business advantage, such payments being generally prohibited;
Negotiations, agreements, provisions and communications with third parties should reflect the Company’s zero tolerance to bribery;
A requirement that any arrangements which give rise to a concern of improper dealing be fully investigated under the supervision of the Company’s Directors.
Training to counter the risk of bribery is being provided to all staff.
Any gifts, hospitality, charitable donations, sponsorship, entertainment and expenses provided or incurred in the course of business must be in accordance with the Company’s Code of Business Standards and Ethics Policy and local laws, and in particular, must not be excessive in value and frequency, nor leave the recipient in a position of obligation.
The Company and its Managers support openness and any staff member or third party is encouraged to raise concerns with the Managers about any issue or suspicion of malpractice at the earliest possible stage.
Mr. Paul Jarrett, the Managing Director (“M.D.”), is the Company’s dedicated anti-bribery and corruption officer.
Members and third parties doing business with the Company should immediately contact the Managers for further advice if they have any concerns regarding bribery and corruption involving any party in its business dealings with the Company.