With a strong economic outlook, the IMF upgrading its growth forecasts for the UK and our Canadian Bank of England Governor hinting that interest rate rises may be just over the horizon if the economy behaves as expected, many US businesses are looking across the Atlantic and considering a strategic expansion into the island that provides a springboard into Europe.
Economic growth is being led by the service sector, but in London you have only to look around you to see that the construction industry is not far behind – new landmarks are going up at a rate we have not seen for many years.
However, if you are coming to the UK, make sure your systems and controls are robust. The UK’s Bribery Act 2010 goes further than the Foreign and Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) – US businesses that are FCPA compliant will need to look again to check how they stand up against this UK response to criticism from the OECD that the UK was not doing its bit in the fight against fraud and corruption.
Mackrell Turner Garrett are ideally placed to explain the differences to you. However, one exposure that you can avoid is the failure by a commercial organization to prevent bribery. For this, the defence of having adequate procedures in place designed to prevent bribery is specifically acknowledged.
There is a great deal of guidance available to businesses about what constitutes adequate procedures and, again, Mackrell Turner Garrett can help to guide you. However, it should be noted that this guidance sets out principles or goals – it is not prescriptive. In this respect, and as an accountant, I would recommend that, if you do nothing else, then at least ask yourself two questions and conduct one task. The two questions are:
- What is the culture within my business with respect to bribery and corruption?
- Is it clear that we have a zero tolerance policy towards bribery and corruption?
As for the task – you have probably already worked that out:
- Conduct a risk assessment of your business to identify or update where you may be exposed.
Addressing these three points will give you a great platform to start the necessary conversations with both your lawyers (regarding the content of the statutes) and your accountants (for practical application) about adequately protecting your business as it grows.
London is well known for its fashion week – make no mistake, in response to the financial crisis of 2008 the UK Government has clearly set out its designs and good business governance is very much the new black.
CBW and Mackrell Turner Garrett can work closely together to advise your UK business on ensuring compliance with the Bribery Act and protecting itself against fraud.