By Helen Parry, senior regulatory intelligence expert, Complinet. The views expressed are her own.
LONDON, April 5 (Complinet) - Seemingly unnerved at the anti- Bribery Act lobby’s dire predictions of British corporations losing out to competitors hailing from jurisdictions with a more relaxed approach to such matters, the Ministry of Justice appears to have taken heed. This is clearly demonstrated by the reassuring, empathetic and positively emollient tone employed in the revised version of the guidance for companies issued last week, particularly when sensitive issues such as facilitation payments and corporate hospitality are being addressed. This change of heart can be clearly discerned by comparing the original and revised versions of the case study on facilitation payments featured in the guidance documents.
THE ORIGINAL CASE STUDY
The original version posited a UK company engaging with a US counterpart in a consortium which was contracting in a third country jurisdiction “rife with corruption.” They were already in serious trouble, having made facilitation payments, struck a deal with union leaders, replaced the facilitation payments with IT services to educational centres connected to an opposition party and been accused of bribery by an overseas government.
The “remedial” part of the scenario consisted of the company being subjected to a barrage of hostile questions designed to elucidate in excruciating detail precisely how the firm had (probably) failed to manage its business to prevent such chicanery. Senior managers were referred to specifically on more than one occasion. The questions included whether:
– They had undertaken a risk assessment informed by the political, social and media environment;