UK Bribery Act to Affect Multinational Companies in Singapore

The UK Bribery Act, coming into force on 1 July 2011, will significantly impact the compliance policies and procedures of multinational companies in Singapore, finds a survey conducted by the Compliance Professionals Association in Singapore (CPAS) in conjunction with Thomson Reuters.


While exactly half of the 42 survey respondents say they did not conduct business in the UK, 63% provide services to corporates who did. A large majority - 82% - felt that with the Act coming into force, their compliance policies and procedures would be affected.


"As compliance professionals, we are committed to helping our firms understand and fully implement the letter and spirit of applicable law. Bribery does exist. Everyone who seeks a level playing field has an interest in ensuring that the game is fair - we therefore support the intent," says Sharon Craggs, Head of Compliance and Assurance, Standard Chartered Bank Singapore and CPAS Chairperson.


The UK Bribery Act will make it a criminal offence to bribe another person or to be bribed and also introduces a new criminal offence for companies of "failing to prevent bribery". Corporate entities can be guilty of this offence if an "associated person", such as an outsourced service provider, carries out an act of bribery when acting on their behalf globally.


Only 22% of respondents said they fully understood the differences between the UK Bribery Act and the FCPA that means a significant 78% have just two months to understand the ramifications to their business and to implement the appropriate controls to ensure compliance.


The UK Bribery Act means that all corporations with a direct or indirect link must implement adequate procedures to meet the strict liability offence of failing to prevent bribery. 63% survey respondents said that they have introduced or amended an existing corruption programme, but a large 60% revealed that they have yet to review the corruption risks.


"There is also a very real reputational threat if appropriate measures are not taken before the Act comes into force. Respondents clearly indicated that the UK Bribery Act will have a significant impact even on the financial industry which in itself is already heavily regulated," comments Wilson Ang, Of Counsel, Norton Rose (Asia) LLP.


The survey also finds that 73% have produced new or amended existing anti-corruption policies. Another finding is that 83% have not appointed an anti-corruption officer at board room level. Meanwhile, 80% have yet to produce a CEO or Board room anti-corruption statement.





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