Answer ... Every company will face its own set of challenges when it comes to prevention of corruption.
However, the following measures will go a long way towards removing the potential for problems:
- Adopt explicit written policies regarding anti-corruption in an easily understandable format for all employees, and conduct training and education for the board, high-level persons, employees and, as appropriate, agents.
- Appoint a member of senior management to oversee anti-corruption compliance and ensure that the organisation has an effective compliance programme. Entrusting compliance to a low-level employee without access to either the board or resources to implement the programme will not achieve the right goals.
- Provide a confidential and/or anonymous method for employees to report suspected wrongdoing within a company. This could be a generic email address to the anti-corruption compliance manager or a hotline.
- Have a clear protocol for dealing with third parties.
- Conduct strict reviews of payments to companies.
- Carry out due diligence on business partners and contracts.
- Initiate rapid investigation of alleged breaches of policies.
- Review employment contracts to ensure that the organisation’s position is protected in the event of a breach by an employee.
- Carry out internal audits of all business locations at regular intervals. It is vital to the integrity of the company that it visits the locations of the individuals and the companies it is working with.
- Continually seek to improve the existing anti-corruption compliance programme – and seek relevant legal advice whenever necessary.
Sticking points can include:
- insufficient resources being devoted to compliance;
- poor or non-existent communication to employees;
- inadequate anti-corruption training; and
- a lack of management of third parties;
The case of Skansen (see questions 1.5 and 3.4) suggests that enforcement agencies – in this case, it was the Crown Prosecution Service – may be willing to make an example of a small or medium-sized company by prosecuting it under bribery legislation. This contrasts with Rolls-Royce, which offended for decades and yet was not prosecuted, as the SFO entered into a deferred prosecution agreement with it.
The Ministry of Justice has emphasised the importance of having bribery prevention procedures in place that are proportionate to the risk, show a commitment to analysing and tackling the risk, are regularly reviewed and are publicised to everyone involved with a company. Such advice may seem obvious, but it cannot be overemphasised.
Any compliance programme can be of value only if any suspicions are acted on. This means planning and conducting an internal investigation in order to determine what, if anything, has happened. If wrongdoing is discovered, it must be reported to the authorities in the right way, in order to secure the best possible outcome. It may be that internal investigations and self-reporting are matters best managed by those with the relevant experience of both the law and the way the enforcement agencies function. This is because there can be great benefit in knowing exactly when and how to hold your nerve in subsequent discussions with such agencies.