By Daniel Hunter
The Fraud, Investigations and Disputes Services (FIDS) team at Ernst & Young has released new research revealing that only half of British firms have heard of the UK Bribery Act (56%), despite the fact that the legislation was enacted more than a year ago.
The research also revealed that larger firms (those with a turnover of more than £50 million) are ahead in terms of their awareness of the Bribery Act (76%), whilst in comparison, mid-market firms (£5m-£50m) have a long way to go, with a worrying 64% of them still unaware of the legislation.
The study polled 50 procurement managers and directors from firms across the UK — 25 from companies with a turnover of £5m-£50m and 25 from companies with revenues in excess of £50m. The results pertaining to midmarket firms are particularly concerning given that UK Ltd has had more than a year since the introduction of the Act in July 2011, and these firms are less likely to have robust processes and systems to counter bribery risk.
“The Bribery Act has been with us for more than a year, and it’s a concern that so many firms still don’t know what it is and what it means for them," John Smart, Partner at Ernst & Young said.
"We shouldn’t need to wait for a company to be fined under the Act before we are spurred into taking the appropriate precautions to manage bribery risk.”
Additional findings from the research include:
- Of those firms which had heard of the Bribery Act, just over half of them (52%) vet their suppliers to see if they too are compliant with Bribery Act;
- Nearly three quarters of firms in the North of England (78%) are still unaware of the Bribery Act;
- Over half of UK manufacturing firms have still not heard of the Bribery Act (53%);
- 67% of firms in Scotland and 72% firms in the South of England have heard of the Bribery Act;
- Over half of UK manufacturing firms (53%) and nearly three quarters (75%) of automotive firms have still not heard of the Bribery Act;
“The midmarket and the manufacturers really need to get to grips with their bribery risks without delay. If the UK is to export itself back to growth, then this carries with it a whole raft of new risks, including bribery," Smart added.
"A robust review of the supply chain should be a key focus for businesses, as proper processes for vetting suppliers is required under the legislation.
“Based on our findings, it seems that firms are either underestimating bribery risk, don’t feel sufficiently educated to give their staff adequate guidance, or are failing to see the urgency in ensuring that their organisations and their suppliers are Bribery Act compliant.
"In any case, these results should serve as a stark warning to firms that they should ramp up their compliance procedures to ensure that clear anti-bribery policies are in place right across the business and the supply chain, and that relevant staff receive sufficient training.”
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