Indian companies doing business in the UK will have to watch out the next time they take a bureaucrat out for a long liquid lunch or try to soften up a hard-nosed regulatory official. Someone could be watching them.
The UK Bribery Act, 2010, a draconian legislation that will come into force from next week, may put additional pressure on some of the companies, already grappling with corruption scandals, say experts. Indian business houses that run some of their activities in the UK will be exposed to potential criminal liability where bribes are paid by employees, agents and subsidiaries even if the relevant conduct happens in some other part of the world. Lawyers say that many Indian companies with business links in UK are consulting them to find ways to comply with the new law that becomes operational from July 1.
The Act introduces four new offences – offering, promising or giving of a bribe (which need not be in cash); requesting, agreeing to receive, or accepting a bribe, either in the UK or abroad, in public as well as private sectors; bribery of a foreign public official in order to obtain or retain business; and, inability of companies to prevent a bribe being paid by those who perform services for or on behalf of the organisation.