The UK government has published the final version of the guidance on anti-bribery policies and procedures – pursuant to section 9 of the Bribery Act – on 30 March 2011. The Act will come into force on 1 July 2011.
Commenting on the implications for financial services companies, Sian Herbert, partner, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), said: “The acceptance of the need for a proportionate and risk-based approach is good news for financial services companies as it recognises their global reach and the complex interactions they face. This is in line with the approach currently promoted by the Financial Services Authority [FSA] and means that companies can confidently and more easily embed their response to the Bribery Act into their existing processes and controls.
“Despite this, the prevention of bribery cannot be a box-ticking exercise and financial services companies that have not already started to prepare have left themselves with a lot to do. Companies should not underestimate the difficulty of embedding the appropriate behaviours globally and across their businesses. Even if companies consider their staff to already behave in an ethical way, the complexity of ensuring these standards are consistent in all operations will be a challenge.
“This should be a cause for urgent action. The key thing is to have a clear picture of the risks facing the business and to create some real momentum behind the development of an anti-bribery programme. The recognition of the importance of control in relation to joint ventures and other investments, and the clarification around associated persons and corporate entertaining will be particularly well received by financial services institutions,” added Herbert.
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