Bribery: How the UK Bribery Act Affects Bahamas Businesses

Bribery: How the UK Bribery Act Affects Bahamas Businesses

How is bribery in the commercial context dealt with by the courts, and how is it relevant to businesses in The Bahamas?  Prosecutors are taking a much stricter stance with individuals and organisations convicted of bribery offences since the UK’s major bribery legislation came into force.  

The expert commercial litigation lawyers at Bahamas law firm ParrisWhittaker are highly experienced in advising and representing individuals and organisations on bribery-related issues affecting their business.

What is the legislation all about?

Under the Bribery Act 2010, individuals and companies convicted of corporate offences under the Act face potentially serious penalties.  The legislation is one of the toughest anti-corruption laws in the world and deals with corrupt behaviour by commercial organisations and individuals within them.

The Act puts the responsibility on business organisations for the activities of their employees, their agents and affiliates to ensure their anti-corruption procedures will protect them from potential criminal liability and serious sanctions. 

Bribery is defined as when a person offers, gives or promises to give a ‘financial or other advantage’ to another individual in exchange for ‘improperly’ performing a ‘relevant function or activity’.   Offences under the Act include general bribery offences of giving and receiving bribes; and bribing a foreign public official.

The Act also imposes corporate liability for failing to prevent bribery; and personal criminal liability for senior officers (including directors, managers and company secretaries) of a company that commits a bribery offence with the consent or connivance of that senior officer.

What does this mean for businesses in The Bahamas?

The legislation is far-reaching, with extra-territorial reach both for UK companies operating in The Bahamas; and for Bahamas-based companies with a presence in the UK.  So, for instance, a Bahamas-based company carrying on a ‘part of its business’ in the UK could be committing an offence of failure to prevent bribery - even where the alleged bribery takes place wholly outside the UK, and involves non-UK persons.

Unfortunately, the Act does not define the phrase ‘part of a business’ and it may well be for the courts to determine this issue in due course.  What’s clear is that this issue is crucial for foreign companies who are concerned as to whether or not they are caught by the Bribery Act.

It is, however, a defence under the Act if the company can prove it had adequate systems and controls in place.

Bahamas companies with a UK presence; and UK companies that have operations in The Bahamas could, therefore, be caught by the Act should be reviewing their business operations accordingly.  They must ensure they have in place adequate processes and procedures to prevent bribery from taking place or risk prosecution.

How can we help?

The commercial litigation lawyers at Bahamas law firm Parris Whittaker have years of experience advising commercial organisations on their commercial operations and bribery issues. We can assist you in reviewing your policies and processes to mitigate any risk of falling foul of The Bribery Act.  If you are concerned that bribery has taken place in your business, or you are under investigation, contact us straight away for urgent, strategic advice.