20 December 2010
The Telegraph(UK) today has drawn attention to a possible impact of the Bribery Act 2010 on corporate hospitality associated with the London Olympics. The Act may have the effect of outlawing the sort of entertainment and gift given which, to date, has been part of major sporting events. Many major companies host their contacts at such events. But using the Games as an opportunity to influence current and potential customers, suppliers and business partners may constitute an offence when the Act comes into force next year.
The Act creates offences that include offering or receiving financial or other advantage, bribing or corrupting a foreign public official and other corporate crimes – yet to be defined. The report suggests that companies will face high costs in training staff and setting up processes to monitor potential bribery.
The Act may distinguish between the acceptability of “reasonable” business lunches and lavish corporate events intended to influence participants. Undue influence may be unlawful. The Act is intended to have a rigorous effect, and to demonstrate a commitment to the OECD Anti bribery Convention and the UN Convention against Corruption.
The bribery provisions in the New Zealand Crimes Act relate only to judges, MPs, law enforcement officers and officials. This means the aspirations of business to use the Rugby World Cup next year to entertain and influence, are unlikely to constrained. However, there would be implications under the State Services code of conduct if agency board members or their staff accept such entertainment.