Businesses not ready for Bribery Act deadline, finds report

Four out of ten firms say they need more time


Three-quarters of British businesses need to overhaul their internal policies to cope with new bribery laws – but just one in 10 have allocated the resources to do so.

These are the principal conclusions of a new survey from Thomson Reuters, which asked senior decision-makers from 400 UK businesses about their preparations for the Bribery Act, scheduled to come into force on July 1.

Just 16% of the companies questioned admitted they’d held no board-room discussions about the new legislation, which will prohibit a range of corporate gifts and invitations previously considered perfectly innocent.

Furthermore, 25% of respondents conceded they’d discussed the issue only once at board level.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, many companies aren’t ready for the new legislation; 40% of respondents said they needed more time to adjust to the law changes, while 20% admitted to feeling totally unprepared.

Stacey English, head of regulatory intelligence at Thomson Reuters, said: “There is a responsibility placed on a company to inform not only their staff but the employees of any third-party service providers it uses. Everyone involved in business dealings needs to be aware of the firm’s anti-bribery policies and stance with the Bribery Act.”

Based on the study sample, just one in three companies run by an overseas parent board has discussed the new legislation with its members. However this could have serious long-term consequences.

English continued: “This act is designed to have the maximum deterrent effect, and companies need to realise how wide-reaching its powers are. The Serious Fraud Office intends to enforce this act not only in the UK but internationally.”

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