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Introduction and anti-bribery statement
Bribery and corruption are found in all countries. They hurt the poor disproportionately, diverting resources intended for development and humanitarian assistance and increasing the costs of basic public services. They undermine economic growth and are a barrier to poverty alleviation, fair dealings and equal treatment, and good governance. Often, bribery and corruption can aggravate conflict and insecurity.
There is a risk that corruption will prevent NGOs achieving their objectives, especially when they are working in countries where there are high levels of corruption. Suggestions that an NGO is linked to bribery in any way can be damaging to its reputation and undermine the trust and support of beneficiaries, partners, the wider public, statutory and other funding institutions and donors. Public concern about the impact of bribery and corruption is a critical issue in building broad public support for aid and development in the UK.
SciDev.Net is committed to acting, and being seen to act, in a way that is honest and transparent. It is equally committed to ensuring that those organisations it works with share and uphold the same values. The UK Bribery Act 2010 has reinforced the need for NGOs to have in place effective measures for preventing bribery. Failure to do so increases the risk of prosecution under the Act.
SciDev.Net is committed to maintaining high ethical standards and preventing bribery and corruption. It expects its partner NGOs, staff, coordinators, consultants, contributors and agents to operate a similar approach, and will monitor the policies and procedures of its partners to ensure this is the case, providing appropriate guidance and support.
Definitions and explanation
Bribery is the offering, promising, giving, accepting or soliciting of money, gifts or other advantage as an inducement to do something that is illegal or a breach of trust or an unfair competitive advantage in the course of carrying out an organisation's activities.
Forms of bribery include:
Extortion – the unlawful use of one's position or office to obtain money through coercion or threats. One example would be when customs officials request undue or false 'customs duties' from importers as a condition to clear their goods.
Facilitation payments – these are bribes and are usually small unofficial payments made to secure or expedite the performance of a routine or necessary action to which the payer of the facilitation payment has legal or other entitlement. One example would be where a governmental licence or permit is required for a particular course of action (such as opening a new clinic) and an official who has some part in granting that licence or permit seeks a 'special payment' to speed through a successful application.
Gifts and hospitality –extravagant gifts and hospitality may be used to disguise bribes that are intended to induce improper behaviour.
UK Bribery Act 2010
Under the UK Bribery Act, which came into effect on 1 July 2011, a bribe is paid if a "reasonable person in the UK" would deem that it relates to the improper performance of a relevant function or activity. A bribe can take any form and be of any size, and can be paid to or received from public or non-public bodies and employees.
If a bribe is paid or received by a third party (such as a partner organisation), anywhere in the world, for the benefit of any British citizen (or "person with a close connection" to the UK), that British citizen is liable to prosecution.
Additionally, any organisation which engages in commercial activity in the UK may be subject to prosecution if it is deemed to have failed to take appropriate steps to prevent bribery. This applies to charities that engage in commercial activities (trading or any service for which fees are charged) irrespective of the purpose for which profits are made.
Prosecutions can also be brought against managers or trustees of a charity, if it can be shown that an offence was committed with their consent or connivance.
The potential penalties for conviction on indictment include unlimited fines, for an individual or organisation. Prison sentences of up to ten years may also be imposed on an individual. Individual senior managers or trustees may be prosecuted if an offence is proved to have been committed by a corporate body with their consent or connivance. An organisation convicted on indictment for failing to prevent bribery is liable to an unlimited fine.
Addressing bribery within SciDev.Net
SciDev.Net places the highest value on ensuring that neither it nor any organisation nor any individual with which it works is in any way involved with any action which could amount to bribery or corruption. Such action is wrong in itself and damaging to the reputation of SciDev.Net and could lead to criminal convictions for SciDev.Net itself and those individuals involved. SciDev.Net has therefore put in place the following procedures which will apply to all members of staff and Trustees and (where appropriate) those who act on behalf of SciDev.Net. The procedures are designed to ensure that all concerned are aware of circumstances and action which might amount to bribery or corruption, and of the steps which they need to take if they are aware of or suspect any such action.
Any member of staff or coordinator who is offered or asked for a bribe, or reasonably believes they have been offered or asked for a bribe, must without delay report the matter to their line manager and also to the Director. Any agent, consultant or contributor who is offered or asked for a bribe, or who reasonably believes they have been offered or asked for a bribe, must without delay report the matter to the Director. Should any Trustee find themself in a similar situation they should immediately report this to the Chair (or in his absence, the Director).
In the rare and exceptional circumstances when individuals feel they have no option other than to make payments to protect against loss of life, limb or liberty, or in humanitarian emergencies (e.g. to prevent the loss of life), the matter should be discussed with the Director, and the Chair, at the earliest opportunity.
Acts of bribery undertaken by staff of SciDev.Net (whether seeking a bribe or paying a bribe), and any failure by a member of staff of SciDev.Net to report that a bribe has been offered or asked for, will be considered gross misconduct and will be dealt with accordingly in line with SciDev.Net staff handbook. Gross misconduct will be dealt with under our Disciplinary Procedure and will normally lead to dismissal without notice or pay in lieu of notice (summary dismissal). In the case of agents, coordinators or consultants, their contract will be terminated with immediate effect. In the case of commissioned contributors, the commission will be cancelled and you will not be used for any future commissions.