With just days to go before new Bribery Act comes into force on 1 July 2011, research by Coleman Parks for Iron Mountain reveals that companies remain worryingly unprepared for the new legislation.
The survey of 100 business leaders with responsibility for information management found that, despite widespread media coverage of the new legislation and its implications for business, more than a third (36%) of respondents were unaware of the forthcoming Act; 30% said their company did not have adequate procedures in place to prevent bribery from occurring; and less than half (48%) understood the implications of failing to adhere to the new Act.
Technology has a vital part to play in helping companies to introduce, manage and communicate effective anti-corruption controls. However, the research found that over a quarter (27%) of respondents did not appreciate how IT could help them to protect their business, particularly from fraudulent expense claims.
This is particularly worrying in view of the fact that according to the Act an organisation can defend itself against the new charge of ‘failing to prevent bribery’ if it can demonstrate that it has put in place adequate procedures to prevent it.
Three ways in which technology can help you to protect your business:
- It can take paper out of the equation. Digital scanning of documents ensures that financial transactions, receipts, agreements, purchase orders, etc are converted into electronic format that can be stored securely (ideally offsite). This will help a business to meet the demands of the Bribery Act in two ways. Firstly, it will enable them to perform automated, on-going due diligence on all company transactions, focusing on the main areas of risk such as hospitality, promotional spend, expenses, etc. and tackling problems before they occur or escalate. Secondly, digital documents can be recovered easily for regulators and others.
- It can take people out of the equation. Automated processes for financial transactions such as invoice management significantly reduce the risk of unethical activity slipping through the net. Such automation also has the benefit of reducing the risk associated with capital investments whilst ensuring that compliance guidelines, statutory data protection requirements, and data and quality standards are fulfilled.
- It enables the automatic backup of all emails and other electronic communication. This means that lost or deleted emails can be rapidly recovered and all information archived for future access.
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