Firms urged to heed warning on bribery action

Dorit McCann
Dorit McCann
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Companies in Northern Ireland have been urged to view several recent cases as a warning that a clampdown on convictions under the Bribery Act is gathering pace.

The last two quarters have seen a marked increase in activity under the Act according to Belfast law firm Carson McDowell.

In September 2015 Brand-Rex, a Scottish developer of cabling solutions accepted that it had benefitted from unlawful conduct by a third party. The company paid £212,800 under an agreed civil settlement.

This was followed by Standard Bank’s deferred prosecution agreement in November 2015 and Sweett Group PLC’s conviction in February 2016.

In the last week the list increased once again when Braid Logistics were ordered to pay £2m after self-reporting suspicious activities it had uncovered within its organisation.

An internal investigation was carried out and the company accepted that it had obtained business through conduct which fell foul of the Act. In response to the penalty, the Company has now implemented new stricter anti-bribery policies and agreed to carry out anti-bribery training for employees.

Dorit McCann, partner in the corporate team at Carson McDowell, said: “Since its implementation in July 2011 the Bribery Act 2010 has failed to make the impact expected.

“However, recent months have seen a significant turning point and the Braid case highlights that businesses should not become too relaxed. We would urge companies in Northern Ireland to be proactive in carrying out internal investigations to prevent an increase in cases locally.”