A Question To Ponder… – The Answer
The Bribery Act 2010 sets out the circumstances in which individuals may commit an offence of Bribery.
Generally, these are:
- Offering a bribe
- Promising to pay a bribe
- Giving a bribe
- Asking for a bribe
- Agreeing to receive a bribe
- Receiving a bribe.
In these cases a bribe is a payment (or other advantage) given to a person with the intention that they will act in an improper way. For example, to encourage someone to place business with one firm over another or to ignore matters such as a poor claims history when giving advice regarding their insurance.
It is also an offence to give, offer, promise, ask for and agree to receive, or receive a payment as a reward for improper acts that have already happened. It doesn’t even matter if the person who carried out the improper act understood that it was improper at the time.
So, in the Blog example, asking for a bribe and the promise to pay may indicate that a criminal offence has been committed by both the individuals.
The firm does have some mitigating circumstances in that it seems to have systems and controls in place to recognise and prevent payments so there is a reduced likelihood of the firm being exposed to a corporate charge. However, the fact remains that one of its employees agreed to pay a bribe, so its controls may be questioned.
In addition, the employee may be liable to disciplinary action under a gross misconduct charge.
The firm does need to take specialist legal advice as to its position and that of its employee which may result in having to call in the police.
Early indications are that this is an act with “teeth” and that the authorities are going to take a tough line with any notification.