Bribery Act to cause red tape nightmare

New anti-corruption legislation may pose the biggest risk to businesses in the next year. And then there's the small matter of the economy...

by Emma Haslett
Last Updated: 17 Mar 2011
If you thought red tape was bad now, just wait until new anti-corruption laws come into force next year. According to the boffins at business risk consultancy Control Risks, which has just released its annual ‘Risk Map’; new, ultra-tough anti-bribery rules coming into force both in the UK and across the pond will be one of the main causes of headaches for businesses during 2011. And that’s going to be compounded by further economic uncertainty, with more bailouts possible. So New Years’ Eve this year might be rather less celebratory than usual…

In the UK, the new Bribery Act will be ‘the toughest enforcements regime in any jurisdiction’, according to Control Risks. When the rules come into effect in April, the Serious Fraud Office will have the powers to pursue any company that has business in the UK – whether it’s based here or not, and even if the deals being done have no connection to the UK. There have already been arguments that the plans could deter businesses from coming to the UK – but SFO director Richard Alderman insists it’s about levelling the playing field.

Level playing field or not, though, for many companies, the Act is going to be a tough one to comply with. The report points out that, couple with the new Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform Act in the US, which will offer financial incentives to would-be whistleblowers, it’s going to be a complex time for businesses, who will be faced with ‘much that is ambiguous’ in the legislation on both sides of the Atlantic. Business will have to ‘actively demonstrate real compliance through the tangled web of joint ventures, agency agreements and distributors that form the cornerstone of transnational business’, says Control Risks CEO Richard Fenning. Just what every company needs when it’s trying to recover from a recession…

Still, there are other excitements. During the next 12 months, Europe is going to continue to have problems with deficit reduction, with the chance that there could be more bail-outs (Portugal, Italy and Spain are already beginning to look shifty). The result of that won’t just be the destabilisation of the Euro – there could also be further riots as a result of austerity measures. So that’s something to look forward to.

If you can’t stand the heat, it might be time to look to other countries. According to Control Risks (whose other main line of business is, incidentally, providing private security in dangerous countries), the ones to watch are Iraq, Nigeria, Pakistan, the Sudan and Turkey. Although your personal risk in some of those might be even higher than the risk to your business – whether you have security or not…

Economy Misc

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