Anti-bribery and corruption policy

1. Policy statement

The British International Studies Association (“BISA”) recognises its duty to comply with the Bribery Act 2010, which came into force on 1 July 2011. The Bribery Act 2010 creates a new offence which can be committed by organisations which fail to prevent persons associated with them from bribing another person on their behalf.

The Act provides:

  • a general offence of bribery, which is defined as giving someone a financial or other advantage to induce them to perform their functions or activities improperly, or to reward them for having already done so;
  • an offence of bribing a foreign public official in order to win business, keep business or gain a business advantage for the organisation;
  • an offence relating to failure by a business to prevent a person associated with it from committing the above offences on its behalf in order to win business, keep business or gain a business advantage for the organisation.

An organisation that can prove it had ‘adequate procedures’ in place to prevent persons associated with it from bribing will have a defence. What counts as adequate will depend on the bribery risks an organisation faces and the nature and size of the organisation.

BISA attaches the utmost importance to this policy and will apply a zero-tolerance approach to acts of bribery and corruption by any of our trustees, employees, volunteers, consultants, service suppliers or business partners working on our behalf both at home and abroad. 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 and corruption.

We will uphold all laws relevant to countering bribery and corruption in all the jurisdictions in which we operate. However, we remain bound by UK laws, including the Bribery Act 2010, in respect of our conduct both at home and abroad.

Any breach of this policy will be regarded as a serious matter and is likely to result in disciplinary action for employees and termination of: Association membership, committee membership, contracts with suppliers or business partners.

2. Overview

This policy outlines the measures which BISA takes to prevent bribery and the procedures that should be followed if bribery occurs. It aims to help the organisation establish a defence under Section 7 of the Bribery Act, and to minimise any operational or reputational risks associated with individuals giving or taking bribes on its behalf.

This policy is designed to assist employees and persons associated with BISA understand the risks associated with bribery and to encourage them to be vigilant and effectively recognise, prevent and report any wrongdoing, whether committed by themselves or others. This policy also aims to provide suitable and secure reporting and communication channels and to ensure that any information that is reported is properly and effectively dealt with. It also aims to create and maintain a rigorous and effective framework for dealing with any suspected instances of bribery or corruption.

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 has been agreed by the Executive Committee and responsibility for this policy lies with the Director who in turn is answerable to the Chair of the Executive Committee. The Director in turn may delegate the oversight and implementation to an appropriate BISA staff member or trustee

3. Who must comply with this policy?

This policy applies to all persons working for us or on our behalf in any capacity, including employees, consultants, interns, trustees, committee members, third-party representatives and business partners, sponsors, or any other person associated with us, wherever located.

4. Definition

4.1 Bribery and Corruption

It is a criminal offence to offer, promise, give, request or accept a bribe under the Bribery Act 2010 and organisations are liable for bribes taken or given on their behalf where they do not have adequate procedures in place.

Bribery is offering, promising, giving or accepting any financial or other advantage, to induce the recipient or any other person to act improperly in the performance of their functions, or to reward them for acting improperly, or where the recipient would act improperly by accepting the advantage.

An advantage includes money, gifts, loans, fees, hospitality, services, discounts, the award of a contract or anything else of value.

A person acts improperly where they act illegally, unethically, or contrary to an expectation of good faith or impartiality, or where they abuse a position of trust. The improper acts may be in relation to any business or professional activities, public functions, acts in the course of employment, or other activities by or on behalf of any organisation of any kind.

Corruption is the misuse of public office or power for private gain; or misuse of private power in relation to business outside the realm of government.

4.2 What is a bribe?

Bribes can take many different shapes and forms but typically they involve corrupt intent. There will usually be a ‘quid pro quo’ – both parties will benefit. A bribe could be the:

  • direct or indirect promise, offering or authorisation of anything of value;
  • offer or receipt of any inducement, loan, fee, reward or other advantage;
  • giving of aid, donations or voting designed to exert improper influence.

Examples of bribery may include:

  • a potential supplier offering money or a gift in order to influence a tendering process;
  • a job applicant offering payment in order to increase his/her chance of being offered employment;
  • a member offering payment in order to be awarded a grant.
  • the Director or a trustee being offered a payment in order to influence a decision of the Executive Committee.

What you must not do

It is not acceptable for you (or someone on your behalf) to:

  • give, promise to give, or offer, a payment, gift or hospitality with the expectation or hope that a business advantage will be received, or to reward a business advantage already given;
  • give or accept a gift or hospitality during any commercial negotiations or tender process, if this could be perceived as intended or likely to influence the outcome;
  • accept a payment, gift or hospitality from a third party that you know or suspect is offered with the expectation that it will provide a business advantage for them or anyone else in return;
  • accept hospitality from a third party that is unduly lavish or extravagant under the circumstances;
  • offer or accept a gift to or from government officials or representatives, or politicians or political parties, without the prior approval of the Director;
  • threaten or retaliate against another individual who has refused to commit a bribery offence or who has raised concerns under this policy; or
  • engage in any other activity that might lead to a breach of this policy.

Facilitation payments and kickbacks

We do not make, and will not accept, facilitation payments or ‘kickbacks’ of any kind. Facilitation payments are typically small, unofficial payments made to secure or expedite a routine or necessary action (for example by a government official).They are a form of bribe and there is no exemption for them under the Bribery Act. Facilitation payments do not include legally required administrative fees and legitimate fast-track services. Facilitation payments are particularly prevalent in certain overseas countries.

Kickbacks are typically payments made in return for a business favour or advantage. You must avoid any activity that might lead to a facilitation payment or kickback being made or accepted by us or on our behalf, or that might suggest that such a payment will be made or accepted. If you are asked to make a payment on our behalf, you should always be mindful of what the payment is for and whether the amount requested is proportionate to the goods or services provided. You should always ask for a receipt which details the reason for the payment. If you have any suspicions, concerns or queries regarding a payment, you should raise these with the Director.

4.3 Gifts, hospitality and expenses

These can range from small gifts (such as diaries, flowers, vouchers, food and drink) to expensive hospitality (invitations to hosted meals, receptions and tickets for major events, holidays etc.). Hospitality or promotional expenditure which is proportionate and reasonable is unlikely to qualify as a bribe. However, extravagant gifts and hospitality may be used to disguise bribes that are intended to induce improper behaviour (e.g. to fix the outcome of a tendering process).

Genuine hospitality or similar business expenditure that is reasonable and proportionate is not prohibited by the Act.

This policy allows reasonable and appropriate hospitality or entertainment given to or received from third parties, for the purposes of:

  • establishing or maintaining good business relationships;
  • improving or maintaining our image or reputation; or
  • marketing or presenting our products and/or services effectively.

The giving and accepting of gifts is allowed if the following requirements are met:

  • it is not made with the intention of influencing a third party to obtain or retain business or a business advantage, or to reward the provision or retention of business or a business advantage, or in explicit or implicit exchange for favours or benefits;
  • it is given in our name, not in your name;
  • it does not include cash or a cash equivalent (such as gift certificates or vouchers);
  • it is appropriate in the circumstances, taking account of the reason for the gift, its timing and value. For example, in the UK it is customary for small gifts to be given at Christmas;
  • it is given openly, not secretly; and
  • it complies with any applicable local law.

Promotional gifts of low value such as branded stationery to or from existing customers, suppliers and business partners will usually be acceptable.

Reimbursing a third party's expenses, or accepting an offer to reimburse our expenses (for example, the costs of attending a business meeting) would not usually amount to bribery. However, a payment in excess of genuine and reasonable business expenses (such as the cost of an extended hotel stay) is not acceptable.

We appreciate that practice 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, hospitality or payment is reasonable and justifiable. The intention behind it should always be considered.

5. Responsibilities

5.1 BISA’s trustees

The trustees will provide leadership, resources and active support for the implementation of this policy. They are responsible for ensuring that this policy and any associated policies are fit for purpose and complied with.

The trustees are responsible for informing the Director of any gifts or hospitality that they have received in respect of their trustee role.

5.2 The Director

The Director is responsible for ensuring that these policies and procedures are implemented consistently and with clear lines of authority.

5.3 Individuals

Individuals are expected to safeguard and uphold BISA’s core values by operating in an ethical, professional and lawful manner at all times. Individuals are responsible for not giving or receiving bribes and challenging instances where bribery may occur. They are also responsible for reporting all bribery that they are aware of via the procedures laid out in this policy. You must notify the Director as soon as possible if you believe or suspect that a conflict with this policy has occurred, or may occur in the future.

To place this in context, individuals should be aware that if they engage in activities which are contrary to UK anti-bribery and corruption legislation, they could face up to ten years in prison and/or a fine, and the Association could also be liable to an unlimited fine and may lose its charitable status.

Compliance with BISA’s policy in relation to bribery and corruption is regarded as part of an individual’s contract of employment be that as a direct employee, or as part of a supply of services arrangement. Any member of staff found to have accepted or attempted bribery or made facilitation payments will be subject to disciplinary action, which could result in dismissal for misconduct or gross misconduct. Additionally, this compliance extends to trustees, committee members, consultants, service suppliers or business partners, termination of: association membership, committee membership, contracts with suppliers or business partners, will be enacted should this policy be found to have been breached.

Individuals must not offer money to any public officials in order to speed up service or gain improper advantage. This type of bribery is a ‘facilitation payment’ and is illegal. In the unlikely event that an individual is faced with a demand for a facilitation payment, such payment must be actively resisted.

You are invited to comment on this policy and suggest ways in which it might be improved. Comments, suggestions and queries should be sent to the Director.

6. Bribery Prevention

6.1 Organisational Commitment

BISA is committed to operating with the highest standards of integrity and promoting a culture in which accountability flourishes. BISA opposes bribery as it erodes free and fair competition, damages good government and harms society at large. The charity operates a zero-tolerance policy towards the giving or receiving of bribes because it is morally wrong and it is illegal in the UK. The jurisdiction outlined in the Act is global so it is illegal for UK entities wherever they are operating in the world.

BISA is committed to tackling bribery at the highest level and clearly articulates its zero-tolerance policy on bribery externally on its website.

In order to prevent bribery, BISA recognises that it should:

  • assess whether the charity is at risk and, if so, the level of that risk;
  • put in place procedures proportionate to the risk identified;
  • show a clear commitment to the prevention of bribery;
  • use due diligence to assess who we deal with and who we appoint to represent us;
  • communicate, train and raise awareness among employees and business partners;
  • monitor and review procedures.

6.2 Risk assessment

Effective risk assessment lies at the very core of the success or failure of this policy. Risk identification pinpoints the specific areas in which BISA may face bribery and corruption risks and allows the organisation to better evaluate and mitigate those risks and thereby protect itself.

We have identified that the following as bribery and corruption risks for BISA:

  • the awarding of conference contracts;
  • the awarding of grants to particular individuals.

These are low risk areas as all relevant decisions are made collectively by or on behalf of the Executive Committee. All risks facing BISA in respect of bribery and corruption are identified in the Association’s risk register which is reviewed annually. The Association recognises that the threat of bribery varies across countries, areas of work, partners and transactions and that the charity must respond proportionately to those risks.

6.3 Due Diligence

6.3.1 Working with service suppliers and in partnerships

BISA is liable under the Bribery Act if a person ‘associated’ with it bribes another intending to obtain or retain business or a business advantage for the Association. The Act’s definition of an associate is deliberately broad to include individuals, incorporated and unincorporated bodies supplying goods and services to the Association (rather than just goods) or acting on BISA’s behalf as a partner or agent.

BISA therefore requires all employees, trustees, consultants, interns, service suppliers and business partners to ensure that, where appropriate:

  • key service suppliers and business partners are selected through a transparent and competitive selection process;
  • due diligence is carried out on key suppliers before entering into contracts with a value of over £5,000. For contracts over £5,000 three estimates are required;
  • any conflicts of interest are declared

6.3.2 Charitable and political donations

A political contribution is a donation made to a politician, a political party or a political campaign. Charities are not permitted to make political donations and therefore political donations are not permitted under any circumstances.

Employees, trustees and consultants should ensure that any donation received or made by BISA is not an incentive to conduct its business improperly.

6.4 Communication

All employees, trustees and consultants must understand and comply with BISA’s anti-bribery policy. To ensure that this is communicated, BISA publishes this policy on its website.

6.5 Record-keeping

Many serious global bribery and corruption offences have been found to involve some degree of inaccurate record-keeping. BISA maintains accurate records and financial reporting through its trustees.

You must declare and keep a written record of all hospitality or gifts given or received, which will be subject to managerial review.

You must submit all expenses claims relating to hospitality, gifts or payments to third parties in accordance with our expenses policy and record the reason for expenditure.

All accounts, invoices, and other records relating to dealings with third parties including suppliers and customers should be prepared with strict accuracy and completeness. Accounts must not be kept "off-book" to facilitate or conceal improper payments.

7. Procedures

7.1 Action employees, trustees and consultants should take if they are offered or asked for a bribe.

How to evaluate what is ‘acceptable’:

First, take a step back and ask yourself 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?

If you find it difficult to answer one of the above questions, there may be a risk involved which could potentially damage BISA’s reputation and business. The action could well be unlawful.

Never acceptable

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

Usually acceptable

Possible circumstances that are usually acceptable include:

  • modest/occasional meals with someone with whom we do business;
  • occasional (i.e. no more than twice per year) attendance at ordinary sports, theatre and other cultural events;
  • gifts of nominal value, such as pens, or small promotional items.

Individuals must reject demands for or offers of bribes and BISA’s anti-bribery stance should be made clear.

Employees should report any such approaches immediately to the Director confidentially.

You are encouraged to raise concerns about any issue or suspicion of bribery or corruption at the earliest possible stage.

If you are unsure about whether a particular act constitutes bribery or corruption, raise it with the Director.

7.2 Where bribery is suspected or where it occurs

To enable proper investigation, employees, trustees and consultants should record the details of any bribery or requested or attempted bribery, as soon as possible after the event. Any instances of actual or potential bribery (this covers the offer of a bribe as well as the receipt) should be properly and promptly investigated by the Director.

The objectives of an investigation should be to:

  • confirm whether or not a bribe has taken place, and to identify who was responsible;
  • confirm whether internal controls and anti-bribery procedures have worked in practice;
  • identify any improvements required to anti-bribery procedures.

Depending on the findings of the investigation, subsequent action will be determined. This may involve disciplinary action against employee/s involved or external reporting to:

  • a senior official or director of another organisation, if the person making the bribe is from that organisation;
  • local police/law enforcement agencies (if deemed appropriate);
  • the Serious Fraud Office (in the UK, the SFO has primary responsibility for the UK Bribery Act);
  • relevant government department where the bribe took place;
  • the Charity Commission, if the matter is considered a ‘serious incident’.

8. Protection

Individuals who refuse to accept or offer a bribe, or 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. If you believe that you have suffered any such treatment, you should inform the Director immediately. If the matter is not remedied, and you are an employee, you should raise it formally using our Complaints Procedure, which can be found on our website.

9. Monitoring and review

This policy will be reviewed if the Bribery Act changes or annually or after a significant change in operations or a significant incident, whichever is sooner.

10.  Change and review history

Drafted and Implemented January 2020.

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