The purpose of this policy is to establish controls to ensure compliance with all applicable anti-bribery and corruption regulations, and to ensure that CommsQuest’s (the Company’s) business is conducted in a socially responsible manner.
Bribery is the offering, promising, giving, accepting or soliciting of an advantage as an inducement for action which is illegal or a breach of trust. A bribe is an inducement or reward offered, promised or provided in order to gain any commercial, contractual, regulatory or personal advantage.
It is our policy to conduct all of our business in an honest and ethical manner. We take a zero-tolerance approach to bribery and corruption. We are committed to acting professionally, fairly and with integrity in all our business dealings and relationships wherever we operate and implementing and enforcing effective systems to counter bribery.
We will uphold all laws relevant to countering bribery and corruption in all the jurisdictions in which we operate.
Bribery and corruption are punishable for individuals by up to ten years’ imprisonment and a fine. If we are found to have taken part in corruption, we could face an unlimited fine, be excluded from tendering for public contracts and face damage to our reputation. We therefore take our legal responsibilities very seriously.
3.1 Who is covered by the policy?
In this policy, third party means any individual or organisation you come into contact with during the course of your work for us, and includes actual and potential clients, customers, suppliers, distributors, business contacts, agents, advisers, and government and public bodies, including their advisors, representatives and officials, politicians and political parties.
This policy applies to all individuals working at all levels and grades, including senior managers, officers, directors, employees (whether permanent, fixed-term or temporary), consultants, contractors, trainees, seconded staff, homeworkers, casual workers and agency staff, volunteers, interns, agents, sponsors, or any other person associated with us, or any of our subsidiaries or their employees, wherever located (collectively referred to as employees in this policy).
This policy covers:
• Gifts and hospitality;
• Facilitation payments;
• Political contributions;
• Charitable contributions.
Employees must not engage in any form of bribery, either directly or through any third party (such as an agent or distributor). Specifically, employees must not bribe a foreign public official anywhere in the world.
3.3 Gifts and hospitality
Employees must not offer or give any gift or hospitality:
which could be regarded as illegal or improper, or which violates the recipient’s policies; or to any public employee or government officials or representatives, or politicians or political parties; or which exceeds £100 in value for each individual gift or £500 in value for each hospitality event (not to exceed a total value of £1000 in any financial year), unless approved in writing by the employee’s manager.
Employees may not accept any gift or hospitality from our business partners if:
it exceeds £100 in value for each individual gift or £500 in value for each hospitality event (not to exceed a total of £1000 in any financial year), unless approved in writing by the employee’s manager; or it is in cash; or there is any suggestion that a return favour will be expected or implied.
If it is not appropriate to decline the offer of a gift, the gift may be accepted, provided it is then declared to the employee’s manager and donated to charity.
We appreciate that the practice of giving business gifts varies between countries and regions and what may be normal and acceptable in one region may not be in another. The test to be applied is whether in all the circumstances the gift or hospitality is reasonable and justifiable. The intention behind the gift should always be considered.
Within these parameters, local management may define specific guidelines and policies to reflect local professional and industry standards. Where this policy requires written approval to be given, the Company Secretary shall put in place a process to maintain a register of all such approvals.
3.4 Facilitation payments and kickbacks
Facilitation payments are a form of bribery made for the purpose of expediting or facilitating the performance of a public official for a routine governmental action, and not to obtain or retain business or any improper business advantage.
Facilitation payments tend to be demanded by low level officials to obtain a level of service which one would normally be entitled to.
Our strict policy is that facilitation payments must not be paid. We recognise, however, that our employees may (in extreme circumstances) be faced with situations where there is a risk to the personal security of an employee or his/her family and where a facilitation payment is unavoidable, in which case the following steps must be taken:
• Keep any amount to the minimum;
• Create a record concerning the payment; and
• Report it to your line manager.
3.5 Political Contributions
We do not make donations, whether in cash or kind, in support of any political parties or candidates, as this can be perceived as an attempt to gain an improper business advantage.
3.6 Charitable contributions
Charitable support and donations actively encouraged, whether of in-kind services, knowledge, time, or direct financial contributions.
However, employees must be careful to ensure that charitable contributions are not used as a scheme to conceal bribery.
We only make charitable donations that are legal and ethical under local laws and practices. No donation must be offered or made without the prior approval of the compliance manager.
All charitable contributions should be publicly disclosed, and wherever possible made using publicly available and visible platforms such as justgiving.co.uk .
You must ensure that you read, understand and comply with this policy.
The prevention, detection and reporting of bribery and other forms of corruption are the responsibility of all those working for us or under our control. All employees are required to avoid any activity that might lead to, or suggest, a breach of this policy.
You must notify your manager OR the Company Secretary as soon as possible if you believe or suspect that a conflict with or breach of this policy has occurred, or may occur in the future.
Any employee who breaches this policy will face disciplinary action, which could result in dismissal for gross misconduct. We reserve our right to terminate our contractual relationship with other workers if they breach this policy.
We must keep financial records and have appropriate internal controls in place which will evidence the business reason for making payments to third parties.
You must declare and keep a written record of all hospitality or gifts accepted or offered, which will be subject to managerial review.
You must ensure all expenses claims relating to hospitality, gifts or expenses incurred to third parties are submitted in accordance with CommsQuest’s expenses policy and specifically record the reason for the expenditure.
All accounts, invoices, memoranda and other documents and records relating to dealings with third parties, such as clients, suppliers and business contacts, should be prepared and maintained with strict accuracy and completeness. No accounts must be kept “off-book” to facilitate or conceal improper payments.
You are encouraged to raise concerns about any issue or suspicion of malpractice at the earliest possible stage. If you are unsure whether a particular act constitutes bribery or corruption, or if you have any other queries or concerns, these should be raised with your line manager OR the Company Secretary.
It is important that you tell the Company Secretary as soon as possible if you are offered a bribe by a third party, are asked to make one, suspect that this may happen in the future, or believe that you are a victim of another form of unlawful activity.
Employees who refuse to accept or offer a bribe, or those who raise concerns or report another’s wrongdoing, are sometimes worried about possible repercussions. We aim to encourage openness and will support anyone who raises genuine concerns in good faith under this policy, even if they turn out to be mistaken.
We are committed to ensuring no one suffers any detrimental treatment as a result of refusing to take part in bribery or corruption, or because of reporting in good faith their suspicion that an actual or potential bribery or other corruption offence has taken place, or may take place in the future. Detrimental treatment includes dismissal, disciplinary action, threats or other unfavourable treatment connected with raising a concern.
Training on this policy forms part of the onboarding process for all new employees and contractors and suppliers.
All existing employees will receive regular, relevant training on how to implement and adhere to this policy. In addition, all employees will be asked to formally accept conformance to this policy on an annual basis.
Our zero-tolerance approach to bribery and corruption must be communicated to all suppliers, contractors and business partners at the outset of our business relationship with them and as appropriate thereafter.
The Managing Director has overall responsibility for ensuring this policy complies with our legal and ethical obligations, and that all those under our control comply with it.
The Company Secretary has primary and day-to-day responsibility for implementing this policy, and for monitoring its use and effectiveness and dealing with any queries on its interpretation. Management at all levels are responsible for ensuring those reporting to them are made aware of and understand this policy and are given adequate and regular training on it.
The Company Secretary will monitor the effectiveness and review the implementation of this policy, regularly considering its suitability, adequacy and effectiveness. Any improvements identified will be made as soon as possible. Internal control systems and procedures will be subject to regular audits to provide assurance that they are effective in countering bribery and corruption.
All employees are responsible for the success of this policy and should ensure they use it to disclose any suspected danger or wrongdoing.