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All you need to know about anti-bribery and corruption programs

What is bribery?

Bribery is most commonly defined as “anything of value given, offered, promised, accepted, requested or authorised with the intent that a person who is trusted or expected to act in good faith or with impartiality, performs that function improperly or in order to obtain or retain an advantage in the course of business”.

What are the consequences of failing to comply with anti-bribery laws?

Since 1977, the US Department of Justice has undertaken over 150 FCPA enforcement actions resulting in billions of dollars in fines for failing to comply with anti-bribery and corruption laws.

In addition to fines and penalties imposed, the consequences for non-compliance are far-reaching and could include:

  • Civil and/or criminal penalties imposed on Boards and Senior Executives;
  • Enforceable undertakings to act or cease acting in a certain way;
  • Reputation damage resulting from negative media exposure;
  • Revocation of operating licenses;
  • Falling share prices; and
  • Extensive remediation programs to address compliance deficiencies.

* Source: US Securities and Exchange Commission

What are the core elements of a good anti-bribery program?


The action you take should be proportionate to the risks you face and to the size of your business. You may need to do more to prevent bribery if you represent a big organisation or if you are operating in an overseas market where bribery is known to be commonplace.

Top-level Commitment

Leadership should set a top-down example that bribery is not tolerated. Those at the top of the organisation are in the best position to guard against and prevent bribery by making sure executives, middle managers, key people you do business with, and you yourself, understand that bribery is outlawed.

Risk Assessment

This step is key for researching the markets you operate in and the people you deal with, especially if you are entering into new business arrangements or new markets abroad.

Due Diligence around Third Parties

Knowing exactly who you are dealing with can help protect your organisation from taking on vendors that are less than trustworthy. Crucial to third-party risk, you should make adequate checks both before and after engaging others to represent you in business dealings.

Anti-Bribery Policies & Training

Setting up the right policies is a key component to getting your programme started. This includes knowing and clearly stating what your organisation will not tolerate and the steps of action to take when potential bribery is witnessed.

Monitoring & Reporting Misconduct

Think about how employees and others will let you know if they see bribery or corruption at play. Ensure clear lines of communication are open to you and those on your team. Identify any potential cultural or reporting issues that may prevent your employees from speaking -up about a concern and ensure that your organisation has the mechanisms in place to act appropriately.

Risk Assessments

The ISO37001: Anti-Bribery Management Systems standard sets out the requirement for organisations to undertake bribery risk assessments to identify the bribery risks that might reasonably be anticipated based on the organisation and its context, including but not limited to the:

  • size and structure of the organisation;
  • locations and sectors in which the organisation operates;
  • nature, scale and complexity or the organisations activities and operations;
  • entities over which the organisation has control;
  • organisation’s business associates;
  • the nature and extent of interactions with public officials; and
  • applicable statutory, regulatory, contractual and professional obligations.

Conducting bribery and corruption risk assessments and identifying controls that can mitigate and manage these risks continues to provide significant challenges to many regulated businesses, which led to our focus on our risk assessment platform.

We have developed two Risk Assessment platforms – click here to find out which is best for you.


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