Legislation fails to dent overseas appetite

With implementation of the Bribery Act less than a month away companies are still not fully compliant

By Michelle Perry | Published 15:48, 06 June 11

LegislationWith less than a month before the UK’s new anti-corruption laws take effect a new study finds that the majority of British businesses aren’t avoiding markets where corruption is reputedly endemic.

While the majority of UK plc say bribery and corruption remain part of doing business in some countries, most companies continue to operate in such places, according to a KPMG International survey. But they are stepping up internal controls, due diligence and training to avoid falling foul of the new Bribery Act.

Brent McDaniel, head of KPMG’s UK anti-bribery and corruption practice, says: “Rather than sidestep certain markets, our survey finds that many leading companies have implemented risk mitigation programmes … .”

Although heartening that the new legislation deemed to be the toughest in the world hasn’t put companies off doing business overseas, it is nonetheless worrying that the study also found significant shortcomings in compliance with the Bribery Act 2010.

One in two companies polled in the study did not have a committee responsible for overseeing anti-bribery and corruption compliance and a third do not carry out anti-bribery and corruption risk assessments.

Still more worrying was the finding that 32 percent of UK executives still didn’t understand the new legislation’s requirements.

In this tight market and with the UK recovery slow dimming, doing the right thing will become even more difficult as businesses face increased investor demands for a good return.

What the survey reveals is that a large portion of business still aren’t prepared for the legislation which takes effect on 1 July. But what companies should count on is that the UK Bribery Act has teeth and large ones too. Regulators will come down hard on those where fraud and corruption are suspected if only to set a clear precedent for the future.

You may think compliance a costly chore in the short term but in the long term it could prove the difference between jail time and a clear reputation.

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