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How it Impacts your Business

Running a business is tough enough these days, without the added risk of the ‘enemy from within’.

Bribery or corruption can have serious implications for your business. It can mean investigation, the risk of criminal prosecution, damage to your reputation and to your share price if you are a listed company.

To ensure your business never faces such a nightmare, you need to make sure your management and staff are aware of the implications of social media and receive compliance training from the outset.

Bribery and Corruption training focuses on ensuring everyone in your business is aware of the risks and follows clear procedures and guidelines which you have put in place.

Bribery and corruption is not just a domestic affair. While these issues still exist on the local business front, more and more Australian businesses are now extending their markets overseas and this can be a potential mine field if they are unfamiliar with foreign customs and laws. This is highlighted in the recent case of four Rio Tinto executives who were found guilty of bribery and stealing and handed lengthy jail sentences.

A case in point is the ongoing Reserve Bank note scandal, in which Australia’s first ever foreign bribery charges have been laid against officials from the Reserve Bank’s bank note firms Securency and Note Printing Australia. The two firms and six of their former senior managers are accused of making multi million dollar bribes to local government officials in Asia in order to win bank note deals.

At the end of the day, the best thing a business can do to ensure bribery or corruption charges never land on their doorstep is to set about building a corporate culture that doesn’t tolerate corruption in any form.

Compliance management is about providing clear guidelines that everyone understands and follows on a daily basis. It’s about being scrupulous in your business dealings, keeping accurate records, and providing your staff with training, benchmarking and best practice advice.

there will always be those who bend the rules to gain personal advantage, and ‘greasing’ (small facilitating payments which are part of life in third world countries) will no doubt always be a tolerated grey area in business, But the days of blatant, lump sum bribery would seem to be numbered, given the current trend to strengthen corruption legislation around the world.

For instance, Australia’s foreign bribery laws are to be strengthened as a result of the Reserve Bank scandal.

The number of charges laid under the American Foreign Corrupt Practices Act has increased dramatically in the last five years. Under this Act, anyone can be prosecuted outside the US, providing they have some connection with the US (i.e. issuing shares on the US stock market or employing US citizens).

And ignorance of the actions of your employees is no longer a defence either. The new Bribery Act in the UK, possibly now the toughest anti-corruption legislation anywhere in the world, includes a potential charge of failing to prevent bribery by not having sufficient anti-bribery procedures in place.

No business can afford to be complacent about the issue of bribery and corruption. In the long run, losing some business to a competitor by refraining from questionable practices is infinitely preferable to suffering reputational or financial loss.