What Is an Anti-bribery and Corruption Risk Assessment?

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Identifying bribery and corruption risks form a part of your corporate social responsibility and could be included in your general risk assessment, but the level of detail must reflect the severity of the risk. In construction, especially within large corporations, the chances of bribery and corruption is increased — particularly within the supply chain. There is a vast amount of legislation relevant to an anti-bribery and corruption risk assessment, and this can help shape your assessment to ensure you are covering all the potential risks. The penalties under the Bribery Act can be for an individual leading to ten years imprisonment and/or to an unlimited fine, or for a corporation potentially being subject to an unlimited fine.

How to Assess the Risk of Bribery

The Bribery and Corruption Assessment Template defines bribery as the “offering, promising, agreeing to receive or giving of a financial or other advantage to induce or reward improper functions or activities and/or the request or receipt of such an advantage.” 

The Bribery Act 2010 lists commonly encountered risks as follows:

  • Country Risk
  • Sectoral Risk
  • Transaction Risk
  • Business-Opportunity Risk
  • Business-Partnership Risk

Building your anti-bribery and corruption risk assessment around this legislation will give you a thorough breakdown of these areas. While some are more relevant to particular industries than others, most will be pertinent for construction companies. 

The Transparency International (TI) Bribe Payers Index found construction to be the most corrupt industry in the world. As the scale of a project increases, so does the risk of bribery or fraud, both aspects of corruption. For a construction company with a vast supply chain, potentially spread worldwide, the instances that provide an opportunity for bribery increase in number. The supply chain should be a large part of your anti-bribery and corruption risk assessment. 

Corruption Points to Consider in a Risk Assessment

Corruption is defined in the Bribery and Corruption Assessment Template as the abuse of power by an official (or any employee entrusted to carry out the functions of government, including contractors) for personal gain. The Chartered Institute Of Building (CIOB) found that roughly half of the professionals it regularly surveys believe corruption is common in the construction industry in the UK. A quarter of those blamed cultural confusion on what does and does not constitute corruption in the industry. 

One feature that makes construction vulnerable to corruption is the uniqueness of each project. As no two construction projects are the same, there’s no “one-size-fits-all” solution when it comes to reducing the risk of corruption. It’s crucial then that your anti-bribery and corruption risk assessment is as specific as possible to the individual site you’re assessing. 

In 2016, at the Anti-Corruption Summit, the UK government committed to developing the UK Anti-Corruption Strategy 2017-2022, of which construction was one of four focus sectors. Large-scale projects make construction vulnerable to corruption because monitoring all elements of the process is not manageable. 

On complex construction projects and builds where much of the work is concealed (e.g. cables and pipework), there are opportunities for corrupt activity within the site. The term corruption covers a range of activities which can include fraud. For example, recommending and quoting for items and materials that are then substituted for a lower quality, cheaper product that allows someone to make a personal gain. Corruption is not always large-scale nor limited to the supply chain, so anti-bribery and corruption risk assessments should cover all aspects of the process. 

Establishing an Anti-bribery and Corruption Risk-Assessment Strategy

Companies should firmly establish their zero-tolerance stance against corruption and bribery. An anti-bribery and corruption strategy is an opportunity for organisations to demonstrate their commitment to tackling bribery and corruption both externally and internally. Not only does this set the standard for what is unacceptable on a project for workers, but it also demonstrates a willingness by the construction company to comply with legislation and help to eradicate bribery and corruption in the industry. 

The Bribery and Corruption Assessment Template suggests companies may benefit from having a nominated senior counter-corruption champion in the workplace responsible for promoting anti-bribery and corruption messages. While your whole team should be aware of the strategy and their responsibilities, it can be useful to have a point of contact who is especially familiar with the company’s anti-bribery and corruption risk assessment to help with guidance and the enforcement of standards. 

Keep Updating and Reassessing the Anti-bribery and Corruption Risk Assessment

The Bribery Act points out that, as a commercial organisation’s business evolves, so will the bribery risks it faces. Therefore, as the business changes, so must the anti-bribery and corruption risk assessment. The legislation advises that “the risk assessment that applies to a commercial organisation’s domestic operations might not apply when it enters a new market in a part of the world in which it has not done business before.” This is especially true for construction companies growing their businesses who may be entering industries or countries they have not explored previously. 

As there is so much legislation to consider in conducting your anti-bribery and construction risk assessment, you should keep revisiting it to ensure compliance with the latest guidelines. The CHAS Anti Bribery and Corruption Assessment (ABC) provides clients with reassurance that adequate procedures are in place to prevent corrupt practices. ABC also forms part of the United Nations Global Compact Corporate Sustainability Initiative, seeking to eradicate corrupt practices. Demonstrating that you have adequate procedures in place to prevent persons associated with your organisation from receiving bribes or bribing others will help to protect you in case of potential prosecution.

When you join CHAS, you’ll get access to various risk-management resources — including risk assessment and method-statement templates. Join CHAS as a contractor to make the most of these benefits, or become a CHAS client for FREE to access bribery and corruption compliance risk-management services.

Become a CHAS contractor and gain access to risk management services and materials — including risk assessment and method statement templates, health and safety checklists and discounted e-learning training modules. As a CHAS member, you’ll also have access to our leading accreditation schemes that make it as easy as possible to achieve compliance and demonstrate accreditation to clients, helping you land more contracts.

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