'Risk takers' still exist, despite new laws
Two-fifths of UK businesses surveyed by a US-based consultancy said current economic conditions encouraged potential breaches of the Bribery Act 2010. And more than a quarter are confident that even if the authorities were aware of breaches, ministers would not encourage them to pursue prosecution.
The survey – conducted by Florida-based researchers FTI Consulting – also a high degree of boardroom ambivalence towards the legislation. It said that 25 per cent of board-level employees claimed they might breach the act to win business.
But despite what appears to be significant levels of disregard for the legislation, a considerable majority of respondents – 63 per cent – said the act would eventually have a positive effect on the prospects for British business.
Commenting on the survey, FTI researcher John Higgins said: ‘While most leaders want ethical business practice, many organisations still face the challenge of managing a hard core of risk takers – and we see evidence of the disproportionate damage they cause in the news every week.’
His colleague, Julian Glass, pointed out that the UK’s Serious Fraud Office has consistently said that it will actively pursue potential infringers of the act. But he also commented: ‘In the absence of a major prosecution, and in light of the increasing need for UK companies to grow business in emerging markets, there is a significant number of business leaders and managers prioritising winning business over fully complying in the belief they will be safe from prosecution.’