How the UK Bribery Act affects UAE companies
The UK Bribery Act generally affects UK residents and citizens but it may affect companies in the GCC in ways they may not be aware of...
October 15, 2012 4:11 by Muhammad Aldalou
So you could say it’s a matter of logic?
It is but you must appreciate also that to date there has been limited guidance, because there’s only been one minor prosecution under the act.
What if the founder of a company in UAE is British? How does that work?
If he or she violated the act, it would apply to only the founder because they’re British. But if the company itself has no connection to the UK, then the act wouldn’t apply to the company, just to the individual.
From what I understood people are more afraid of the US Bribery Act than the UK’s.
The US has a bribery legislation called Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which has been around for many years. You are correct, people are more afraid of the US bribery act, because there have been a large number of successful prosecutions undertaken. To date under the UK bribery, there haven’t been any substantial prosecutions. Also, the penalties under the FCPA can be perceived as being more severe because even a company that’s being investigated, even if not concluded, can have their export licenses suspended. At the end of the day, pending the investigation, they can’t carry on business.
For the UK Bribery Act to bring the prosecution, it has to be established that it is in the public interest. That’s a threshold that may mean that in some cases a prosecution isn’t brought even though they may be evidence.
How would companies go about changing their culture of ethical practice?
The most important thing is for the message to come from the top. It’s very important for the CEO, the board of directors or the senior management to adopt that culture of compliance. That then can be filtered on through the company through training and understanding and entrenched in the form of disciplinary procedures. If an individual is not following the compliance measures then it becomes a disciplinary measure and that, in turn, will start to change the culture of compliance within the company.
What exactly does Public Interest before prosecution mean?
It’s difficult to define. I suppose what it means is that in assessing whether or not to prosecute – because obviously prosecution isn’t cheaply undertaken – it has to be in the public interest. I would think it would have to be a substantial case, so you would hope that prosecuting a company with little to no real connection to the UK except for a few trade may not be in the public interest. Having said that, we haven’t had any major prosecutions to see exactly how it will be implemented in practice.
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