Since the issue of our last eBulletin, three company directors in Sustainable Growth Group have been found guilty and sentenced to a combined 28 years in prison for their part in a biofuel fraud and bribery case. The case included offences under the Bribery Act 2010, which the judge said was an aggravating feature.
The Bribery Act created a number of bribery offences including the offence of "Failure of commercial organisations to prevent bribery". If a person performing services for an organisation (an employee, agent, contractor, etc.) commits an act of bribery then the organisation is also guilty of an offence and will be prosecuted. The offence is one of strict liability, which means that no knowledge of the offending behaviour or fault on the part of the organisation is needed.
This is further confirmation that the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) is now very serious about prosecuting bribery offences and should be a reminder to all international businesses to re-appraise the adequacy of their anti-bribery and corruption procedures.
The defence for the organisation is to prove that it had in place "adequate procedures" designed to prevent such persons associated with them from carrying out bribery activity. It is important to carry out an annual review, and where necessary an update, of the adequacy of your organisation’s anti-bribery procedures.
In the last few days, the Financial Times has reported that Rolls-Royce has been accused of being caught up in a bribery scandal in Brazil, involving oil firm Petrobas. Rolls-Royce is already subject to a formal SFO investigation over alleged bribery and corruption in China and Indonesia. These developments highlight the huge risks faced by (highly respected) global organisations, who are dependent on networks of intermediaries.
It is no coincidence that Rolls-Royce announced last year that "the number of intermediaries used by our businesses has continued to fall dramatically during the year", while also launching a 24-hour "ethics telephone line" for staff.
The message for global relocation companies is clear: Ensure that you have robust anti-bribery defences in place.
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