Bribery: What is it and what’s the penalty?
Bribery can be defined as giving someone a financial or other advantage to encourage the person to act improperly or to reward them for having acted improperly.
The Bribery Act 2010 is the main legislation in this area of domestic law, but it is vital to understand that the legislation forbids companies based in the UK from using bribes to gain business anywhere in the world – even in places where these types of gestures are common.
Any company that has failed to prevent bribery will be guilty of both a criminal offence and a corporate offence.
This raises questions about what exactly a company can do in terms of building relationships, or thanking clients, without it being accused of bribery.
Guidance states that activities focused on establishing cordial relations or enhancing ability to present products or services is acceptable, if it is an established way of business. It is, however, very clear that the use of hospitality and other similar business expenditure can constitute a bribe.
While bribes are a normal part of business in some countries, a business based in the UK that enters into a bribe in another part of the world will be guilty of the offence under domestic law.
There are defences that a company can argue if they are charged with bribery. A common defence is that the organization has tried their best to prevent bribery – this will require evidence, not a simple assertion.
The penalty for bribery is up to 10 years in prison and an unlimited fine for individuals, and unlimited fines for companies.
If you are being investigated for, or charged with, bribery, it is important that you get experts on your side immediately. Call our dedicated team of criminal defence lawyers now on 01623 397200.