By Marcus Leach

The vast majority of UK companies claim that the Bribery Act has not significantly affected their ability to do business, a new survey from Ernst & Young has found.

Despite claims at the implementation of the Act in July that the legislation would damage the UK’s competitiveness abroad, new research reveals that just 6% of firms believe the anti-bribery law has affected their ability to do business.

The survey by the firm’s Fraud Investigation & Disputes Services team, coinciding with the UN’s International Anti-Corruption Day today polled 406 chief financial officers, controllers and finance managers at a range of FTSE 100, FTSE 250, mid-size and private firms.

“The Bribery Act has caused organisations to examine how they carry out their business, particularly how they work with third parties for example agents, intermediaries, and distributors. Some businesses however have still not paid heed to the Bribery Act and they are at risk, particularly in their dealings abroad," John Smart, Head of the Fraud Investigation & Dispute Services team said.

“The SFO has a large number of ongoing bribery and corruption investigations and is looking to take its first corporate scalp. Being cognisant of the risk, having detailed knowledge of those acting in your name, and making good decisions about the way you operate abroad goes a long way to protecting your business.”

Jonathan Middup, Head of Anti-Bribery and Corruption team added that it is business as usual six months after the Act came into place.

“The good news for UK business, and growth, is that nearly six months on, the Act has not proved to be the costly barrier that some feared it could become," he said.

“The premise that UK businesses need to pay bribes to be competitive abroad is a false one. There is a cost of carrying out risk assessments, amending policies, and implementing training and due diligence procedures but for many well run businesses they have been able to bolt on the extra requirements to good compliance structures that already exist.

"That more than nine out of ten say their business hasn’t been affected reflects this. The next step will be for companies to keep their bribery and corruption programmes fresh. To be protected businesses will need to monitor and review their programmes and ensure that compliance fatigue doesn’t set in.”

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