On 9 October 2012, the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) issued revised statements of policy on facilitation payments, business expenditure (hospitality and gifts) and self-reporting which took immediate effect and superseded previous statements of policy or practice:
- Facilitation payments. Facilitation payments (for example, where a government official is given money to perform an existing duty) are bribes and are illegal under the Bribery Act 2010 (irrespective of their size or frequency).
- Business expenditure. Although the SFO regards genuine hospitality or promotional or other legitimate business expenditure as an established and important part of doing business, it notes that bribes can be disguised as legitimate business expenditure.
- Self-reporting. Self-reporting will not automatically avert prosecution; to be relevant, it must form part of a “genuinely proactive approach” of a business’ management team. Even if the SFO does not prosecute reported violations, it can prosecute unreported violations of the law and provide information on them to other bodies (such as foreign police forces).
Our checklist outlines the offences introduced by the Bribery Act 2010 and the penalties for committing them. It also highlights practical steps that businesses can take to help avoid breaching the legislation.