Does the lone voice in the Board room speak with a British accent?

For those British directors who have found themselves on the Boards of foreign companies doing business in the UK, I can imagine you are having a few sleepless nights at the moment.  For those of you whose companies do not trade in the US and have never been FCPA compliant, you may not be getting any sleep at all.

The new UK Bribery Act poses some difficult challenges for you and your fellow Board members, particularly if your organisation has not paid much attention to anti-corruption compliance in the past.

Unlike your fellow directors, by virtue of your “close connection” with the UK, you might be held personally liable for your organisation’s breaches of the new Act. 

The Serious Fraud Office has made no secret of the fact it intends to follow the same enforcement trends in respect of the Bribery Act as the US Department of Justice has been doing in respect of the FCPA.  The pursuit and conviction of senior individuals is one such trend, evidenced in late February by the prosecution of three Mabey & Johnson executives.

If you do one thing tonight before you go to bed, add “Compliance Programme” to your next and all subsequent Board meeting agendas and start reading up on the Act.  You may be the lone voice in the Boardroom, but with some skin (literally) in the game you have no choice but to get informed and speak up.