East of England-based accountancy firm Moore Thompson is warning owners of SMEs to take heed of the Bribery Act 2010.
The Government recently published a report titled ‘Insight into awareness and impact of the Bribery Act 2010 among small and medium sized enterprises’, which was formed in response to the July 2013 Business Services Red Tape Challenge that recommended SMEs are given more guidance on the appropriate application of the Bribery Act.
Mark Hildred, Managing Partner at Moore Thompson, said: “The results of the Government’s survey of SMEs suggests that there is a real need to increase awareness of the Bribery Act. The survey found that only 66 per cent of those surveyed had heard of the Act, 33 per cent had assessed the risk of being asked for bribes and only 42 per cent had put bribery prevention procedures in place. This is concerning, particularly because companies and partnerships that are prosecuted for the corporate offence face unlimited fines and individuals could be sentenced to up to ten years in prison.”
Of the SMEs that were aware of the Bribery Act, almost three-quarters (72 per cent) perceived that their company had sufficient knowledge and understanding to be able to implement adequate anti-bribery procedures. This perceived knowledge and understanding was greatest among SMEs that were aware of corporate liability for failure to prevent bribery (79 per cent) compared to those that had only heard of the Act itself (45 per cent).
According to Mark, the lack of awareness amongst SMEs may be linked to the rarity of Bribery Act prosecutions, but they add that it should not be ignored.
“The Bribery Act is viewed by many as being one of the most effective tools for dealing with international bribery and it provides a framework of best practice for commercial organisations conducting business in the UK. As such, there is a need for SMEs to improve their awareness and understanding of the current legislation and ensure that they have taken the necessary steps to put bribery prevention procedures in place,” concluded Mark.
If you are the owner of an SME and are worried about the implications of the Bribery Act and awareness within your company, please contact Mark Hildred at Moore Thompson by calling 01775 711333.