The Bribery Act 2010 came into force on 1 July 2011. The Act creates four offences relating to Bribery, including a strict liability offence for failure by a business to prevent bribery. A business that can show it had in place 'adequate procedures' to prevent persons associated with it from committing acts of bribery, has a complete defence to this strict liability offence, which carries a maximum penalty of an unlimited fine. The maximum penalty for individuals who commit bribery offences is ten years' imprisonment and an unlimited fine.
It is therefore essential that all businesses consider and review the policies that they have in place to prevent bribery and consider whether they have adequate systems and procedures in place to prevent bribery and to meet the requirements of the law. Government Guidance setting out details about what sorts of procedures can be put in place to prevent bribery can be viewed here.
Businesses operating with or in high risk industries (for example carbon trading, oil and gas, construction in developing countries, health) and / or high risk countries (such as China, Russia, large parts of Africa, Italy & Greece) are at particular risk.