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4 January 2012 | Adam Leach
Nearly two-thirds of medium-sized firms (64 per cent) in the UK are unaware the Bribery Act exists and even fewer have carried out checks on their supply chain’s compliance with the legislation.
A survey, published by accountancy firm Ernst & Young, polled 50 procurement managers and directors of UK firms, split evenly between firms with a turnover of £5 to £50 million and larger. In total, just 56 per cent of companies had heard of the Act. The findings indicated medium-sized firms were significantly behind larger companies in terms of compliance, with 76 per cent from companies with turnover of more than £50 million aware of its existence.
John Smart, a partner at Ernst & Young, said: “The Bribery Act has been with us for more than a year, and it’s a concern that so many firms still don’t know what it is and what it means for them. We shouldn’t need to wait for a company to be fined under the Act before we are spurred into taking the appropriate precautions to mange the bribery risk.”
Of further concern, it found of all the companies that had heard of the Act, just over half, 52 per cent, had taken the step of vetting their suppliers to ensure that they were compliant. Other findings included that 78 per cent of firms from the North of England are unaware. Firms from the South of England, 72 per cent, and Scotland, 67 per cent, were the most aware of the legislation. It also found 53 per cent of UK manufacturers do not know about the Act.
The Bribery Act 2010, which came into force on 1 July 2011, created four new offences including, in the case of companies, failure to prevent bribery. Businesses can face an unlimited fine if they are found guilty of the offence.