In the last week, there’s been plenty of media coverage on the ‘cash for questions’ affair where former shadow Minister Patrick Mercer got caught up in a sting by journalists posing as lobbyists. After failing to declare £2,000 of the £4,000 he was paid by undercover journalists for ‘consultation’, Mercer resigned from the conservative party to “save them from embarrassment”.
There is a possibility that Mercer will be subject to a criminal investigation, making him the first MP to face an investigation under allegations of breaching the UK Bribery Act 2010, an offence which can earn him to up to 10 years imprisonment.
If this situation wasn’t a sting and was an actual lobbying scandal, then the organisation involved would be in some serious trouble too. Let’s look at the worst case scenario, if an MP was found guilty and the organisation was found guilty then that could potentially mean:
- A 10 year prison sentence for the MP
- The organisation can face an unlimited fine
- A ban from tendering for EU contracts
- An additional fine of a sum up to the value of 6 years revenue
It’s also safe to say that the organisation would suffer major brand damage, and the individual will most likely need to change profession once they’ve finished their sentence.
Bribery isn’t completely preventable, but leaving your organisation vulnerable to the penalties is. There is a full defence for organisations who can demonstrate, that even though there was a breach of the act on their behalf, they did have sufficient procedures in place to prevent bribery.
An Anti-Bribery Management System (ABMS) which is compliant to the BS10500 standard is designed to help organisations reduce the risk of bribery. If you’re interested in implementing an ABMS into your organisation, then I strongly suggest taking a look at our ABMS Documentation Toolkit which is currently available for pre-order.