Dealing with Corruption

Actions by Individuals


This web-page suggests actions which an individual could take if he/she personally encounters corruption in his/her employment, or in a project in which he/she is involved, or generally (for example, in obtaining a work permit).)   It can also be used by an organisation as part of its anti-corruption training for its employees.



Separate web-pages provide information on:

  • Dealing with Corruption: Actions by organisations:  This web-page suggests actions which an organisation could take when confronted with corruption which affects the organisation or its employees
  • Dealing with corruption: Actions by the public:  This web-page suggests actions which a member of the public could take if he/she suspects that there is corrupt activity in relation to a project, and that this corruption could have some adverse impact on a matter of public concern such as public health, safety, the environment, historic buildings, the landscape, breach of building regulations or planning restrictions, or inflated project cost for which the public will ultimately pay.





Actions by individuals


As explained in What is corruption, GIACC uses the term "corruption" in the wider sense to include bribery, extortion, fraud, deception, collusion, cartels, abuse of power, embezzlement, trading in influence and money laundering.   Consequently, the discussion in this section applies to all such criminal activity.

The risks of being involved in corruption far outweigh the potential personal benefits that may flow from such corruption. If convicted of corruption, an individual may face a lengthy prison term and claims for compensation, and may find it difficult to obtain employment of any merit. In addition, the organisation by which the individual is or was employed may suffer fines, criminal conviction, debarment, financial loss and reputational damage. Consequently, individuals should avoid involvement in any corrupt situation, and if they have unintentionally become involved in a corrupt situation, they should withdraw from it as soon as they become aware that it is corrupt.

This section should be read in conjunction with Dealing with Corruption: Actions by Organisations which provides advice on what steps an organisation should take when confronted with corruption.

This section does not deal with corruption prevention measures (for which see Anti-Corruption Programmes in index on left of page). It looks only at suggested actions for an individual when actually confronted with corruption.



Part 1: Dealing with corruption –

Preparatory steps
for individuals

Prior to commencing work in a particular jurisdiction and in order to ensure that they are suitably equipped to deal with corrupt situations, individuals should ensure that they have been informed and trained by their employer (as explained under Preparatory Steps in Dealing with Corruption: Actions by Organisations).




Part 2: Dealing with corruption –

Possible actions for individuals



The schedules below consider 9 situations in which individuals may be confronted with corruption. The schedules set out suggestions in relation to the individual’s legal position, direct action that may be taken, recording the event, and reporting the event. These suggested actions should be considered in the context of the following advice:

  • The suggested actions are only those actions which an individual officer or employee might take. Any actions which may require a decision by the organisation are set out in Dealing with Corruption: Actions by Organisations.
  • They are only suggested actions. The actions an individual actually takes in a corrupt situation should be guided by the individual’s own assessment of the situation and how other persons involved may respond.
  • The reports suggested are only suggested reports. The decision by an individual as to whether to report a corrupt situation and, if so, to whom, must depend on the individual’s assessment as to how that report will be received and whether making such a report may have an adverse impact on the individual, any other person, or the organisation. For example, an individual will have to assess whether making a report to his organisation may lead to adverse discrimination against him/her by the organisation, or whether making a report to the authorities may place him/her in danger.
  • Common sense and discretion need to be used on every occasion.
  • Legal advice may need to be taken.

 


Situation (1): An express request for a bribe is made to you (but is not accompanied by threats).

 

Example: You are informed that, in order for your company to receive a contract payment due to it, you will need to pay 10% of the due amount to a manager of the paying company as a bribe.

Legal position: If you pay a bribe in this situation, then it is likely that you and your employer will be liable for bribery.

Caution: Do not do or say anything which could put you or another person in danger.

Suggested direct action:

  • Politely refuse to pay the bribe.
  • If the demander persists with the request for a bribe, inform him/her that your employer prohibits payment of bribes and that, if you pay the bribe, you will have to report it to your employer who will then report it to the demander’s employer and the criminal authorities.
  • If the demand is made by a government official, and there are government procedures in place to report the official, then inform the official that these procedures would require you to report.
  • If the situation is not resolved, ask to see a more senior official or manager.
  • If this request is refused, or if the senior official or manager is unhelpful, say that your company will make a formal complaint to one or more of the relevant government department or company which is responsible for making the payment, the project owner, the funders, your embassy, and the criminal authorities.

Make a record of the event: Make a detailed record of the event and, if possible, obtain witness evidence of the event. Such evidence should, if possible, be in the form of written witness statements that are legally valid as evidence in the relevant jurisdiction.

Suggested reporting of the corruption:
If you believe that your employer has proper reporting procedures, then:-

  • Report the incident to the relevant officer of your employer.
  • Request, if necessary, that your identity be kept confidential by your employer.
  • If appropriate, provide your employer with copies of your record and witness statements of the event. Ensure that you keep the originals of these documents unless you feel that it is safe to hand them to your employer. If you hand over the originals, keep copies.

If you do not believe that your employer has proper reporting procedures and/or you are concerned that making a report may have an adverse impact on you, then consider the situation carefully before deciding whether or not to make a report to your employer.

If you do not make a report to your employer or if, having made a report to your employer, you think that the employer is not taking adequate action, then consider reporting (anonymously or otherwise) to: any independent assessor or monitor appointed in relation to the project;your local embassy; and/or the criminal authorities.

 


Situation (2): An express request for a bribe is made to you (and is accompanied by implicit or explicit threats to your safety or that of another).

 

Example: You are stopped by an armed policeman at a road-block. He acts in a menacing manner and demands payment in return for allowing you to continue. You anticipate that he may harm you and/or your passengers if you do not pay.

Legal position: In a number of jurisdictions, you would not be liable for bribery if you made a payment in this situation. However, this may not be the case in all jurisdictions. Even in those jurisdictions where you would not be liable, you may need, in order to avoid liability, to be able to prove that you reasonably feared for your or your passengers’ safety.

Caution: Do not do or say anything which could put you or another person in danger.

Suggested direct action: If your personal safety or that of another person would be endangered by a refusal to pay, then pay the bribe. Even if the making of threats is not a defence to liability, it is better to pay the bribe than to endanger your or another person’s safety.

Make a record of the event: As for Situation (1)

Suggested reporting of the corruption:

  • If it is a defence to a charge of bribery that you paid in circumstances where you reasonably feared for your safety, then make reports as in Situation (1).
  • If it is not a defence to a charge of bribery that you paid under threat of personal harm, then you may be incriminating yourself by making a report. Take independent legal advice before taking any further action. Alternatively, or in addition, your employer may be able to provide you with confidential advice in this situation. You will also need to consider your position if reporting corruption is a legal obligation in the particular jurisdiction, and so, by failing to report the incident, you may be committing a further offence.



 


Situation (3): A payment is demanded from you which you suspect may include a hidden bribe.

 

Example: An “expediting” fee is required by a government official to issue a permit in circumstances where the legitimacy of the fee is not clear, or a fee is demanded which the official claims is legitimate but which is higher than the published fee or appears to be disproportionately high given the action required.

Legal position: If you make the payment knowing or suspecting that it includes a bribe, and it does include a bribe, then it is likely that you and your employer will be liable for bribery.

Caution: Do not do or say anything which could put you or another person in danger.

Suggested direct action:

  • Politely ask for documentary proof that the sum is payable, stating that you must account for all expenses to your employer, and that you will need an official receipt.
  • If documentary proof and receipt are not provided, refuse to pay.
  • If the demand is made by a government official, and there are government procedures in place to report the official, then inform the official that these procedures would require you to report.
  • If the official refuses to issue the necessary permit or whatever is required, ask to see a senior official.
  • If this request is refused, or if the senior official is unhelpful, say that your company will make a formal complaint to one or more of the relevant government department, the project owner, the funders, your embassy, and the criminal authorities.

Make a record of the event: As for Situation (1)

Suggested reporting of the corruption: As for Situation (1).



 


Situation (4) : A situation arises where it appears that a bribe is expected from you in order for a function to be carried out.

 

Example: Inordinate delay in obtaining a permit suggests that the official is expecting a bribe even though no express demand has been made.

Legal position: If you pay a bribe in this situation, then it is likely that you and your employer will be liable for bribery.

Caution: Do not do or say anything which could put you or another person in danger.

Suggested direct action:

  • Politely ask the official for the reasons for the delay.
  • If the reasons fall within any of Situations (1) to (3) above, then follow the advice in the appropriate section.
  • If the reasons are inadequate, ask to see a senior official.
  • If the request to see a senior official is refused, or if the senior official is unhelpful, say that your company will make a formal complaint to one or more of the relevant government department, the project owner, the funders, your embassy, and the criminal authorities.

Make a record of the event: As for Situation (1)

Suggested reporting of the corruption: If you believe that the inaction is due to corruption rather than incompetence or if you are unsure as to the cause, then report as for Situation (1).




Situation (5) : A senior manager requires you (as a more junior employee) to participate in bribery or fraud.

 

Example: You are requested by a senior person in your company to participate in:-

  • Bribery, in order to help the company to make a profit or win a contract, or to obtain a certificate, permit or payment.
  • Fraud, in order to help the company increase its profit or avoid loss or liability (for example, by submitting an inflated claim, or by concealing a defect so as to avoid the company incurring rectification costs).
  • Bribery and fraud, where, for example, as company legal adviser, you are asked to draft an agency agreement which you suspect conceals a bribe arrangement.

Legal position: If you participate in the activity knowing or suspecting that bribery or fraud is involved, it is likely that you and your employer will be liable for bribery or fraud. It will not be a defence for you to say that you were requested to commit the offence by a senior person, or that you were not personally benefiting, or that you thought it was normal business practice. If you are caught, it is possible that the company’s senior management will disassociate themselves from you so as to avoid incurring liability themselves.

Caution: Do not do or say anything which could put you or another person in danger.

Suggested direct action: Refuse to participate in the bribery or fraud – even if you are threatened with dismissal or demotion. It is not worth it to you personally. If you participate and are caught, you face personal criminal liability and possible imprisonment.

Make a record of the event: As for Situation (1)

Suggested reporting of the corruption: As for Situation (1).



 


Situation (6) : You discover bribery or fraud in your company or its business partners (and you are not a senior manager).

 

Examples:

  • You are involved in activity which you did not initially realise was corrupt, such as where you are preparing a claim on the basis of records that you discover have been falsified.
  • You discover that someone working for your own company, or for one of your company’s business partners, has taken corrupt action, such as paying a bribe or approving the delivery of defective materials.

Legal position: If as a junior employee, you were not involved in the activity, it is unlikely that you would be liable. If you were involved in the activity, but you did not know or suspect that there was any bribery or fraud involved then, it is unlikely that you would be liable for taking part in the activity. However, if you continue to take part in the activity once you have discovered or suspect that there is bribery or fraud, then it is likely that you will incur liability.

Caution: Do not do or say anything which could put you or another person in danger.

Suggested direct action: Play no part, or no further part, in the activity in question.

Make a record of the event: As for Situation (1)

Suggested reporting of the corruption: As for Situation (1).



 


Situation (7) : As a senior manager, you discover that an individual or organisation for which you have management responsibility has paid a bribe or committed fraud.

 

Examples:

  • A project manager discovers that a site manager over whom he/she has management responsibility has been taking bribes to approve short delivery of materials.
  • A commercial director discovers that a claims manager over whom he/she has management responsibility has been submitting false claims.

Legal position: It is likely that you would not be liable for bribery or fraud while you did not know or suspect or turn a blind eye to the possibility that there was any bribery or fraud taking place. However, once you have discovered or suspect that there is corruption, then, as you are the person in authority, it is likely that you will incur liability if you do not make full enquiries and take all reasonable steps to put a stop to the corruption.

Caution: Do not do or say anything which could put you or another person in danger.

Suggested direct action:

  • Make full enquiries to establish what has happened and whether any other company employees are involved.
  • If the corruption is continuing, then take all reasonable steps to put a stop to the corruption
  • Require all relevant documents and evidence to be collected together.

For further follow up action to be taken by your employer, see Dealing with Corruption: Actions by Organisations.

Make a record of the event: As for Situation (1)

Suggested reporting of the corruption: If you are not a director, report the matter to the relevant responsible director. If you are a director, report the matter to the board. For further reporting by your employer, see Dealing with Corruption: Actions by Organisations.




Situation (8) : As a senior manager, you discover that your company is involved in a cartel.

 

Example: Several companies agree that they will share the market. When they tender for a particular project they secretly agree in advance which of them will win the project and at what price. The other companies then bid at a higher price in order to ensure that the selected company is the successful bidder.

Legal position: As for Situation (7). In addition, in a number of jurisdictions, immunity from prosecution may be given to the first company in a cartel to report the cartel to the authorities. This immunity often extends to the reporting company's employees. Even if it is not the first to report the cartel, some mitigation of liability or penalty may be available if a company reports the cartel and/or co-operates with the authorities.

Caution: Do not do or say anything which could put you or another person in danger.

Suggested direct action: As for Situation (7).

Make a record of the event: As for Situation (1)

Suggested reporting of the corruption: As for Situation (7).




Situation (9) : You discover that a competitor of your employer has secured a contract through bribery.

 

Example: Your company is both the best technical and the lowest priced bidder. Despite this, one of your competitors wins the contract. You receive a tip-off that a bribe was paid by your competitor.

Legal position: It is unlikely that you, as an individual, would incur liability in this situation provided you have not been complicit in any way in the bribery.

Caution: Do not do or say anything which could put you or another person in danger.

Suggested direct action: Make full enquiries to establish what has happened. Require all relevant documents and evidence to be collected together. For further follow up action to be taken by your employer, see Dealing with Corruption: Actions by Organisations.

Make a record of the event: As for Situation (1).

Suggested reporting of the corruption: As for Situation (7).

 

 


Other Resources

If you have published guidance which is relevant to the above recommendations, and if you are willing to provide a link to your website, please send details to GIACC for listing on this page.  Only services and tools which are available free of charge will be listed.




Most recent update on 2nd February 2013

Page first published on 1st May 2008



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