Bribery is no longer an option for business advantage

Just a heads-up about the new Bribery Act 2010 (implemented July 2011), in case IT people think this doesn’t affect them.

This Act creates four new offences and commercial organisations now commit an offence if a person associated with the company uses bribery to obtain business advantage and, in a first for UK law, it applies world-wide.

The new offences:

  • A general offence of bribing another person.
  • A general offence of being bribed
  • A specific offence of bribing a foreign public official
  • A new corporate offence of failing to prevent bribery by persons associated with a commercial organisation, with important consequences for companies contracting in and with the public sector.

As far as I can see, IT procurement and the provision of services to customers could fall under the Act (although I Am Not A Lawyer-seek professional advice). Support technicians, e.g., should be careful about giving presents to or receiving presents from customers they support-large presents, anyway.

Taking the purchase officers and CIOs from your best customers to a free “software training course” on a cruise ship in the Bahamas mightn’t be such a great idea either.It is also important to realise that the Bribery Act extends the jurisdiction of UK law. Your company could fall foul of the Act if its Indian outsourcing partners, say, use bribery to obtain contracts outside of the UK.

If convicted,companies might be excluded from procurement processes under the Public Contracts Regulations 2006 and Utilities Contracts Regulations 2006-and, the EU “Public Sector Directive” also allows “Discretionary Exclusion” for lesser offences under the Act, classified as “grave professional misconduct”.

A commercial organisation’s main defence under the Act is to show that it has “adequate procedures designed to prevent bribery being committed on its behalf”.These probably include “due diligence” on any partners and should be in place-even for the IT group.

The IT group needs to deal with this Act as any part of the business would, of course. It should seek advice from the company’s Compliance Officer; and readable government guidance and case studies, wiith a foreward by Ken Clarke even, is available here (pdf file).

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David Norfolk is Practice Leader Development and Governance (Development/Governance) at Bloor Research. David first became interested in computers and programming quality in the 1970s, working in the Research School of Chemistry at the Australian National University. Here he discovered that computers could deliver misleading answers, even when programmed by very clever people, and was taught to program in FORTRAN. His ongoing interest in all things related to development has culminated in his joining Bloor in 2007 and taking on the development brief. Development here refers especially to automated systems development. This covers technology including acronym-driven tools such as: Application Lifecycle Management (ALM), Integrated Development Environments (IDE), Model Driven Architecture (MDA), automated data analysis tools and metadata repositories, requirements modelling tools and so on.