It’s been three months since the much anticipated UK Bribery Act has passed and the big question seems to be: now what? Good question, but enforcement has already started. Just recently, the first person (as opposed to a company) was charged under the new Bribery Act, a magistrate court clerk named Munir Yakub Patel who allegedly accepted £500 for fixing a motoring offense, according to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS).
Even with all the talk and discussion leading up to the Act, I frequently get questions from customers who ask me what they should do to avoid scrutiny and prosecution. My usual response is, if you already have a strong code and an established bribery policy AND you’ve made your employees fully aware of this, you should be covered. If not, you want to develop a policy ASAP. As far as awareness, get your employees trained on anti-bribery and track and verify their participation. Remember all the chatter about “adequate procedures”? Well, it’s real, and it’s starting to come to fruition. The risk is real but it’s not that difficult to ensure you are mitigating those risks via those adequate procedures that show you have steps in place to prevent corruption.
I’m going to keep an ear out for the court proceedings regarding the Patel case. Since it’s an individual who is charged and not a company, “adequate procedures” probably won’t do much for Patel’s defense. But then again, perhaps corporations will take note of the diligence of the SFO to curtail bribery through prosecution. If it could happen to a court clerk, it could happen to them.