Bribery is a term used to describe an offence where a person offers a type of reward in an attempt to influence a recipient.
The kind of influence the perpetrator may be seeking are changes in opinions, decisions or actions in order to gain an unfair business or individual advantage or to speed up a lengthy process of negotiations or transactions. The Bribery Act of 2010 defines the act as “induc(ing) a person to perform improperly a relevant function” and “to reward for the improper performance of such a function”.
Bribing has various forms, but commercial bribes can occur where an incentive is given to a member of a private organisation or even an employee, in an attempt to influence behaviour during a given financial transaction. Another form of commercial bribing occurs when domestic companies are looking to initiate business deals abroad, including giving an incentive in negotiations to speed up the process and bribe a foreign official.
This kind of corruption is often carried out with money as the incentive, however other types of rewards like gifts, special treatment or any item of real value can also be used to sway people. It can occur in many places in society especially private organisations, governmental branches like the judiciary, public institutions and sporting events. According to Impact Law, although wrongdoing of this nature is most commonly associated with governments, businesses and certain industries like the healthcare sector are very prone to allegations.
Punishments for those who both commit and are on the receiving end of this misconduct include criminal penalties like large fines or prison time. UK organisations who are successfully accused can face unlimited fines, as can perpetrators as long as they are employees at the company. Those who receive bribes can be dismissed from their jobs and barred from being able to work in public office.
What Does the 2010 Bribery Act Cover?
The UK Bribery Act was drafted as a reaction to the 1997 Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) anti-bribery convention, and consequent recommendations in combatting bribes, especially on foreign officials.
The act expanded the definition of bribing, by identifying three general commercial bribing offences including offering incentives, attempting to influence foreign public officials and attempting to gain an unfair business advantage. This means that under section 6 of the act relating to foreign public officials, business spending on things like hospitality for foreign guests does not necessarily count as a violation of the law as it does not amount to seeking a business advantage.
This applies to all UK businesses, those who formed in the UK, and those have some part of their operations in the UK. However, the act also legislates for all UK-registered companies in any part of the globe, as well as any foreign company stationed or formed in the UK that is accountable under its laws. According to Transparency International, UK businesses with foreign subsidiaries can be made liable if the subsidiary commits an offence when dealing with its parent company.
Section 3 of the act lays out all actions to which bribing applies, including:
- Actions of a public nature
- Actions associated with businesses
- Actions performed during employment
- Actions performed on behalf of another
Strong liability measures were introduced for companies to prevent misconduct, meaning organisations must constantly evolve their policies. If an organisation has successfully implemented detailed provisions but bribes still occur, the act states in Section 7 that organisations may have a defence if they can prove that the effective policies were in place during the time of a bribe.
Fraud, Bribery and Corruption online training for employees introduces staff to policies and responsibilities and outlines good practice in typical situations they could encounter.