bribery and corruption

 

Forum Financial Advisory and Training Solutions SRL specialise in the field of Bribery and Corruption.

Forum Financial Advisory and Training Solutions SRL , CEO Michael McNEIR, has extensive experience in dealing with high profile investigations of a national and International basis.

We are able to offer advisory and investigation services for our clients.

We have an Indepth knowledge of the UK 2010 Bribery Act, Romanian Bribery and Corruption Legislation and International Bribery and Corruption legislation.

We are focused to work with you on building strategies tailored to deal with your particular situation.

Frequently Asked Questions:

What is Bribery and Corruption?

Extract from Transparency International’s website following the launch of the TI CPI 2018 on 29 January 2019:

Corruption is a global phenomenon which affects businesses applying for government licences, seeking tenders (both public and private sector), contracting with intermediaries and agents, giving charitable donations, getting goods or people across borders, providing corporate hospitality, hiring employees, starting up operations abroad, keeping accurate accounts, filing tax claims or just carrying out their daily business. Perhaps a local government official has asked for a favour, or an agent offers to arrange a private meeting with the Minister awarding a contract. A customs official may demand an “expedition fee” before releasing a company’s goods, or an agreement inherited as part of a take-over or merger situation seems to involve unusually high fees.

Corruption is illegal in many countries in the world, but anti-corruption laws can vary considerably from jurisdiction to jurisdiction and the grey area between acceptable corporate behaviour and corruption can be very murky. A number of international agreements on corruption have tried to set common standards, and to improve the ability of national authorities to prosecute corrupt individuals and companies by mechanisms on information sharing and extradition. Differences remain, however, causing headaches for multinationals wanting (or, in some cases, required) to implement global anti-corruption compliance programmes.

There is, indeed, a plethora of international instruments on corruption and related issues. The United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, adopted in 2000, though aimed mainly at organised crime, also included provisions directly relating to corruption. The Council of Europe has adopted both a Civil Law Convention on Corruption, designed to ensure that effective remedies exist in national law for persons who have suffered damage as a result of corruption, and a Criminal Law Convention on Corruption, aimed to coordinate criminalisation of a range of corrupt practices, including the active and passive bribery of domestic and foreign public officials, parliamentarians, judges and officials of international organisations as well as active and passive bribery in the private sector.

UK Bribery ACT

The Bribery Act 2010 has extended the range of offences available to prosecuting agencies in tackling bribery and corruption in the commercial world. As of 1 July 2011, the Act abolished the existing framework of anti-corruption legislation and replaced it with a modern and comprehensive law, which includes offences of:

  • Paying or offering a bribe,
  • Accepting a bribe,
  • Bribing a foreign public official.

The Act applies to activity in the private and public sectors and to activity performed outside the UK.  In addition, the Act extended the liability of corporate entities for the actions of its employees, agents, and other individuals associated with the company. A corporate is guilty of an offence if any associated person acting on the corporate’s behalf bribes another person anywhere in the world.

What is the Difference Between Corruption and Bribery?

Corruption and bribery are two terms often mistaken for one another or used interchangeably as they have very similar meanings. However, it is important to understand the differences between the two so that businesses can effectively manage, mitigate or hopefully prevent the problems they cause.

The two issues are governed predominantly by the Bribery Act of 2010, which brought the UK in line with new guidelines published by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Dubbed the bribery act or simply ‘the act’, it covers a wider range of possibilities for the problem to occur as well as a refined definition of the term. Penalties for bribing offences include an unlimited fine for organisations. Company Directors can be barred for 15 years from holding positions of responsibility.

Differences Between Corruption and Bribery

Corruption means the actions taken by a person in high office, with the effect of an unfair advantage, most often for personal gain. It is the “abuse of entrusted power for private gain” and comes in multiple forms including grand, petty, commercial and political. Commercial wrongdoing includes the mistreatment of resources which can discourage investors and shareholders from continuing their cash-flow into the organisation. When the issue enters the public realm, people will stop using the company’s resources and the business may experience huge financial losses.

Bribery is a type of corruption. It is defined as the offering of gifts to another individual, in order to try and influence their opinions or types of behaviour. In a business setting, bribes can occur in order to speed up negotiations with companies abroad, by offering public foreign officials an incentive, or giving a gift to a boss or manager and asking for a promotion. Despite it being the most common type, gifts and rewards do not have to take the form of cash payments, like hospitality or buying a guest ticket to a certain event can count as misconduct.

When both of these offences occur in businesses, it can lead to serious short and long-term damage to the organisation. Bribing can lead to serious reputational damage, as shareholders and investors alike will refuse future payments and the public won’t use the company’s services anymore.

Corrupt practices, in general, can cause serious economic damage as business accounts can be used for dodgy payments when it could have been used for actual company practices and invested into much-needed resources. If resources are used for damaging purposes, wages and the ability to purchase stock or supplies are impacted.

What Can Businesses do to Prevent Malpractice?

Private organisations are legally obliged to have a zero-tolerance policy, in addition to clear anti-corruption policies and penalties for offenders. Businesses must do all they can in “maintaining ethical standards”[1] through raising awareness of the issues. This can be done by getting staff members to study online compliance courses as well as set clear company ethics codes, codified into things like handbooks. If measures such as these come consistently and from the top hierarchies of the organisation, then they will become well implemented and will lead to a build-up of trust amongst staff members.

When handling hospitality provisions with business partners, private organisations should ensure that the purchasing of hospitality has a business purpose, is not over the top for the needs, and should be published on the accounts transparently. If not, then purchasing things like hotel rooms for partners can be considered misconduct and the company is liable.

Finally, businesses should be transparent in the handling of their accounts. Organisations are required to publish financial accounts, which will deter “extortion and people can see if the money paid by businesses to governments is accounted for”[2]. Financial transparency will also aid in building trust in the eyes of the public, avoiding bad PR and negative reputations in the press.

For more information see ABC and protecting businesses from these problems.

[1] https://smallbusiness.chron.com/prevent-accounting-corruption-38901.html

[2] https://www.bvdinfo.com/en-gb/blog/compliance-and-financial-crime/6-ways-companies-can-help-fight-corruption-and-earn-trust-and-how-we-can-help

Posted by Daniel Clark. Published: July 11, 2019 Reviewed: January 17, 2020

Source: engageinlearning.com/faq/compliance/preventing-bribery-in-business/what-is-the-difference-between-corruption-and-bribery/

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