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As the regulatory environment grows ever more demanding and risks increase, Anti-Bribery & Corruption (ABC) is proving to be a challenging minefield to navigate. Approximately 46% of SMEs decided to relax areas of their cybersecurity to enable staff to work remotely—a prime target for cybercriminals.
During our event on 23 June 2021, panel chair Arvinder Sambei, Barrister at Brooke Chambers, examined with our panellists - the main risks to businesses and what actions can help ensure companies are protected.
Watch the webinar now
10 year anniversary of the Bribery Act, are you truly compliant?
Arvinder asked about the success and impact of the Bribery Act, in anticipation of its 10th anniversary on 1 July 2021. Opening the floor, Neil Swift, Partner at Peters and Peters, highlighted there are both failure and successes to be considered. The failures centre around the enforcement of the Act, but the success should be considered in conjunction with the Deferred Prosecution Agreements (DPAs)—such as those bought against Rolls-Royce, Tesco (2017) and Airbus (2020). These DPAs have helped to encourage companies to deal with their red flags and address the risks they may have identified.
Martin Polaine, Barrister at Brooke Chambers, stressed that having a risk-based approach to implementing the Bribery Act is not a ‘once and for all’ exercise. Processes will need to ‘evolve as you enter new markets and times change’. The panel argued that risk assessments should not simply rely on a template but be objective. Polaine suggested that, when it comes to implementation, it is crucial to lead from the top.
Martin Coyle, Journalist at MLex, emphasised that risks of non-compliance with the Bribery Act should not be ignored by organisations. However, he noted that other pressures, such as COVID and increasing legislation in other areas means that it risks not being a top priority. Wrongdoing is still taking place and slipping through the cracks.
SFO enforcement and the future
Arvinder moved on to discuss the role of the SFO in the enforcement of the Bribery Act.
The SFO’s first DPA was in 2015, proposing penalties of £16,782. By 2020, penalties had risen to £38,500 (figures taken as of September 2020). Despite the potentially large fines that companies face (which appear to only be increasing), Neil noted that the SFO has difficulties when it comes to enforcement against individuals in a company. Does trying to deal with things speedily, actually cover up the issues?
Many prosecutions against individuals have fallen through— but as Martin Polaine said that although the conviction rate is low, it would be a mistake to take the ‘it’ll never happen to me’ approach.
Neil highlights that the failures in individual convictions is certain to be an issue on the SFO’s radar. He stresses that, going forward, individuals should be ‘pre-emptively concerned and prioritise ABC policy procedures’.
Martin Coyle added that it would be wise to consider the £17m claim by the SFO on ENRC. This could be an indication of future SFO DPA convictions.
LexisNexis Regulatory Compliance
Panellists and attendees discussed ways to stay on top of and mitigate ABC risk.
It was clear that getting to the heart of the compliance requirements and breaking them down into clear deliverables was one of the biggest challenges. Without structure or support, compliance is a lengthy and complex task.
Thankfully, there are tools that have done the complex research and can offer clear, actionable steps that break down what organisations need to be compliant. With tools such as LexisNexis Regulatory Compliance, it is a simple task to stay in the right side of the legislation.
LexisNexis Regulatory Compliance includes UK-specific modules on Anti-Money Laundering, Anti-Bribery and Corruption, Cybersecurity and Privacy and Data Protection—making it easy for you to start your journey towards managing your company’s regulatory risk.
Learn more about Regulatory and Compliance here and take a demo.
Our thanks to panel chair Arvinder Sambei, Barrister at Brooke Chambers for her expertise leading the panel discussion. Equal thanks to our expert panellists: Neil Swift, Partner at Peters and Peters; Martin Polaine, Barrister at Brooke Chambers; and Martin Coyle, Journalist at MLex.
We are also indebted to our GRC partners Cura, Camms, and Archer who made this event possible.
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Hannah is one of the Future of Law blog’s digital and technical editors. She graduated from Northumbria University with a degree in History and Politics and previously freelanced for News UK, before working as a senior news editor for LexisNexis.
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