This Statement sets out the position of Retail Manager Solutions Limited (“RMS”) with regard to issues relating to anti-bribery and corruption within the business activities of RMS.
The Bribery Act 2010, which is effective from 1 July 2011, represents the largest change in UK law in the area of anti-corruption and bribery involving commercial organisations for many generations and is the most far-reaching in its effect and implementation than any other similar legislation in the world.
Penalties can be severe with fines for companies running into millions of pounds, together with fines and imprisonment of up to 10 years for individuals. In addition any arrangements which are deemed illegal (including contracts) are unenforceable.
The Six Principles of the Bribery Act
The Ministry of Justice identified six key principles to aid the prevention of bribery.
The six key principles are:
Proportionate procedures. A commercial organisation’s procedures to prevent bribery by persons associated with it are proportionate to the bribery risks it faces and to the nature, scale and complexity of the commercial organisation’s activities. They are also clear, practical, accessible, effectively implemented and enforced.
Top-level commitment. The top-level management of a commercial organisation (be it a board of directors, the owners or any other equivalent body or person) are committed to preventing bribery by persons associated with it. They foster a culture within the organisation in which bribery is never acceptable.
Risk assessment. The commercial organisation assesses the nature and extent of its exposure to potential external and internal risks of bribery on its behalf by persons associated with it. The assessment is periodic, informed and documented.
Due diligence. The commercial organisation applies due diligence procedures, taking a proportionate and risk based approach, in respect of persons who perform or will perform services for or on behalf of the organisation, in order to mitigate identified bribery risks.
Communication (including training). The commercial organisation seeks to ensure that its bribery prevention policies and procedures are embedded and understood throughout the organisation through internal and external communication, including training, that is proportionate to the risks it faces.
Monitoring and review. The commercial organisation monitors and reviews procedures designed to prevent bribery by persons associated with it and makes improvements where necessary.
RMS and The Bribery Act
The Board of Directors of RMS is committed to zero tolerance of any act, or attempt, of bribery and to implementing a policy and procedures which are proportionate to the business of RMS to ensure compliance with the Bribery Act. RMS adopts the six principles enshrined in the Bribery Act 2010.
Policy and Procedures
RMS’s Anti-bribery policy:
- conveys the Board’s unequivocal anti-bribery stance; is clear about what bribery is and how it might manifest itself in the business of RMS;
- states who is responsible for what in terms of specific areas of policy and implementation;
- addresses all of the key bribery risks identified at the risk assessment stage;
- gives guidance as to how those business activities which give rise to bribery risk are to be conducted;
- supports employees in knowing what to do, or where to turn in cases of doubt.
RMS’s Anti-bribery procedures (processes and controls) are:
- designed to support effective implementation of policies and mitigation of identified risks;
- designed to support a range of both preventive and detective controls;
- focused on key risk areas;
- risk-based and proportionate, rather than treating all transactions, activities or business relationships the same way;
- as far as possible, built into existing processes and controls for the sake of efficiency and quick user-acceptability; and
- aimed to make anti-bribery compliance part of “business as usual”, rather than a stand-alone project.
Effective risk assessment lies at the very core of the success or failure of the RMS Anti-Bribery Policy. Risk identification pinpoints the specific areas in which RMS faces bribery and corruption risks and allows us to better evaluate and mitigate these risks. Management must assess the vulnerability of each business unit to these risks on an ongoing basis, subject to review by the Board of Directors.
Where Do the Bribery and Corruption Risks Typically Arise for RMS?
Bribery and corruption risks typically fall within the following categories:
A. Use of Business Partners
The definition of a business partner is broad, and could include agents, contractors, distributors, joint venture partners or solution partners who act on behalf of RMS. Whilst the use of business partners can help RMS achieve its business objectives, RMS recognises that there is a need to be aware that these arrangements can potentially present RMS with significant risks.
Risk can be identified where a business partner conducts activities on RMS’ behalf, so that the result of their actions can be seen as benefiting RMS. Business partners who act on RMS’ behalf will be advised of the existence of and operate at all times in accordance with the RMS Anti-Bribery Policy. Management is responsible for the due diligence and evaluation of each relationship and determining whether or not it falls into this category.
Where risk regarding a business partner arrangement has been identified the Board will:
- Evaluate the background, experience, and reputation of the business partner;
- Understand the services to be provided, and methods of compensation and payment;
- Evaluate the business rationale for engaging the business partner;
- Take reasonable steps to monitor the transactions of business partners appropriately; and
- Ensure there is a written agreement in place which acknowledges the business partner’s understanding and compliance with this policy.
RMS accepts that it is ultimately responsible for ensuring that business partners who act on its behalf are compliant with this policy as well as any local laws. Ignorance or “turning a blind eye” is not an excuse.
B. Gifts, Entertainment and Hospitality
Gifts, entertainment and hospitality include, without limitation, the receipt or offer of gifts, meals or tokens of appreciation and gratitude, or invitations to events, functions, or other social gatherings, in connection with matters related to our business. These activities are acceptable provided they fall within reasonable bounds of value and occurrence.
How to evaluate what is ‘acceptable’:
First RMS considers the following:
- What is the intent – is it to build a relationship or is it something else?
- How would this look if these details were on the front of a newspaper?
- What if the situation were to be reversed – would there be a double standard?
Circumstances which are never permissible include examples that involve:
- A “quid pro quo” (offered for something in return)
- Gifts in the form of cash/or cash equivalent vouchers
- Entertainment of a sexual or similarly inappropriate nature
Possible circumstances that are usually acceptable include:
- Modest/occasional meals with someone with whom we do business
- Occasional attendance at ordinary sports, theatre and other cultural events
- Gifts of nominal value, such as pens, or small promotional items
Transparency is key
Any form of gift, entertainment or hospitality given, received or offered will be appropriately recorded in a register held by the Finance Manager.
C. Facilitation Payments
The UK Bribery Act 2010 makes no distinction between facilitation payments and bribes. Not with standing that in many countries it is customary business practice to make payments or gifts of small value to junior government officials in order to speed up or facilitate a routine action or process, such facilitation payments are against the RMS Anti-Bribery Policy. The Board of RMS takes the view that they are illegal within the UK as well as within any country in which RMS, or its business partners, operate.
Law enforcement and regulators in the UK and elsewhere are consistent in their clear statements that they will not accept purely “paper-based” anti-bribery compliance programmes.
Such programmes must work in practice and therefore effective implementation is the key to success. RMS believes that the overarching implementation challenge arises from the fact that successful anti-bribery compliance is all about culture and behaviour.
Fundamentally, most people want to do the right thing and have a pretty good instinct about what that is, but they can be led astray or merely distracted by lack of awareness or competing demands.
Key areas of challenge in implementation include:
Communication. Getting the messages right; delivering the messages in different ways to refresh and reinforce; raising awareness; delivering suitably targeted training; reinforcing top level commitment.
Governance and accountability. Being clear about who is responsible for what: ensuring clear ownership of the compliance programme; being clear that RMS management is accountable for implementation.
Ingraining anti-bribery compliance. Helping employees develop the right instincts: to know what to do or where to turn in cases of difficulty or uncertainty.
Management of third parties supplying services on behalf of RMS. Incorporating terms and conditions into contracts with suppliers and contractors to ensure their compliance with the RMS Anti-Bribery Policy and the ability for RMS to audit, monitor and review the third party performance of services on behalf of RMS.
Accurate Books and Record-Keeping. RMS ensures that accurate books, records and financial reporting are kept and for significant business partners working on behalf of RMS. RMS books, records and overall financial reporting must also be transparent. That is, they must accurately reflect each of the underlying transactions.
Monitoring and Review
Effective monitoring and review is critical to the long-term sustainability of RMS’ anti-bribery programme and to its ability to demonstrate adequate operating procedures.
Monitoring is a key element of internal control and only by monitoring key information, such as bribery risk indicators, relevant indicative data, and performance of procedures and controls will RMS be able to ensure anti-bribery policies are being effectively and consistently implemented and kept up-to-date to address the latest risk position.
A clear reporting structure and allocation of responsibilities (including oversight at Board level, compliance monitoring and day-to-day responsibility for being compliant) are important in achieving adequate oversight and governance.
It is important to ensure information reported is as robust as possible and can be gathered and reported in an efficient manner. A good reporting process will also enable continuous improvements to be made, making the anti-bribery control environment in RMS more robust and more efficient.
It is the ultimate responsibility of the Board of RMS routinely to review and reinforce the RMS Anti-Bribery Policy and its underlying principles and guidelines and to ensure it is implemented throughout the Company, its employees, its agent, contractors, distributors and other business partners.