The following quick tips provide brief, concise and quick references of practical advice on prevention of corruption, fraud or other malpractice.
Below are some anti-corruption tips for companies/organisations to do business overseas:
- Formulate a policy on the company/organisation’s zero tolerance against corruption including strict compliance with the Prevention of Bribery Ordinance (POBO) (Cap. 201) and anti-corruption laws of other jurisdictions in which the company/organisation carries out business.
- Require all staff and agents (including those stationed/employed in Hong Kong and overseas) to understand and comply with the policy.
- Prohibit staff and agents from bribing any persons, including foreign public officials, for securing business or their assistance, influencing their decisions, or in any way contrary to the POBO or applicable anti-corruption laws of the relevant jurisdictions.
- Seek advice regarding the overseas anti-corruption laws and trade practices from the relevant consulates, ministries of justice, anti-corruption agencies, legal consultants, chambers of commerce, trade associations, etc. as appropriate.
- Internally, issue a code of conduct and arrange integrity training for all staff and agents to uphold their integrity standards, covering the POBO and applicable overseas anti-corruption laws, and probity requirements of the company/organisation.
- Externally, publicise the anti-corruption policy and probity requirements to enhance transparency and minimise corrupt approaches from overseas counterparts (e.g. suppliers, contractors, business/joint venture partners).
- Engage a lawyer conversant with the relevant overseas legislations, including those concerning anti-corruption, to vet the company/organisation’s codes of conduct, tender and contract documents, joint venture agreements, etc.
- Readily provide staff and agents with guidance on complying with the company/organisation’s policy, e.g. establishing a channel or designating a person-in-charge to answer queries and help solve the problems encountered.
- Put in place adequate safeguards to deter and detect irregularities and non-compliance.
- Report suspected corruption to the ICAC and/or relevant overseas anti-corruption/law enforcement agencies as appropriate.
Anti-corruption laws and regulations - All personnel, in particular the senior management of the company, should ensure that operations under their charge comply with all the laws and regulations, including the Prevention of Bribery Ordinance.
Roles and responsibilities - Each personnel in the company should understand his role and responsibilities in helping the company adopt anti-corruption practices and implement its anti-corruption policy.
Anti-corruption policy and Code of Conduct - Companies should state its commitment to ethical and anti-corruption practices in doing business, and its position and key measures against corruption. In particular, companies should promulgate a code of conduct setting out the ethical and probity requirements for directors and staff.
Corruption risk identification and assessment - Companies should accord management of corruption risks an equally high priority as other business risks, and identify the risks through systematic reviews of company policies and procedures.
Anti-corruption control - Companies should devise and implement internal controls to prevent or detect various forms of abuse, corruption and other malpractice based on the findings of the corruption risk reviews (point 4 above).
Training and communication - Companies should promote an ethical, anti-corruption and compliant culture within the organisation through effective communication of the anti-corruption policy (point 3 above), and corruption prevention capacity building among the staff at all levels.
- Monitoring and review - Companies should monitor and review the anti-corruption programme, the corruption risks and effectiveness of internal controls in response to changes or corruption incidents.
The POBO criminalizes bribery of and by public officials and private individuals in mainly Section 4 and Section 9 of the Ordinance.
A bribe is not limited to monetary form only. The POBO provides a clear definition of “advantage”.
“Advantage” includes money, gifts, loans, contracts, services, etc. but does not include “entertainment”.
“Entertainment” means the provision of food or drink, for consumption on the occasion when it is provided, and of any other entertainment connected with.
“Hospitality”, such as ticket to a performance or sport event and hotel accommodation, is advantage, not entertainment under the POBO.
There is no minimum value or threshold for an advantage to ‘qualify’ as a bribe.
There is no exemption for so-called “facilitation payments” (small payments to fast-track a routine government action) under the anti-bribery law of Hong Kong.
The bribe does not need to be actually accepted as long as an offer is made or an agreement is reached to offer or take a bribe, an offence is committed.
- “Custom” (e.g. trade practice of giving rebates to purchasing staff (買手)) won’t be accepted as a defence.
For Employers/Senior Management
- Set the tone at the top –
- Leadership – playing a key role in corruption prevention. The Chairman, directors, CEO and other senior executives must lead by example, by carrying out business in an ethical manner.
- Clearly set out the company’s commitment to ethical and clean business practices; and the anti-bribery policy and rules.
- Suggest doing this by issuing a Code of Conduct which should cover both directors and staff –
- Do you want to have a sample Code?
- We can help in corruption risk assessment and advising on the proper controls. Contact Us.
For Managers and Supervisors
For All Directors/Staff
- Don’t bribe - don’t offer advantage to a public servant:
- with the intention to influence the public servant in the performance of his official duties.
- with the intention to keep him “sweet”, with a view to obtaining a favourable disposition in the future in relation to his official duties/capacity.
- while having dealings of any kind with the government department or public body in which he is employed.
- Don’t offer advantage to a public servant which would give rise to an actual, potential or perceived conflict of interest for the public servant or perception of undue influence on the public servant in the performance of his official duties.
- Courtesy gifts to public servants are unnecessary and should be avoided in the first place, but if it is considered a necessary protocol during an event or part of the ceremony to offer a courtesy gift to a public servant representing his department or organization, the following is recommended:
- consult the public servant in advance whether he agrees to receive the gift at the event/ceremony.
- understand that the gift will be regarded as being offered to the government department or public body which the public servant is representing and will be subject to the means of disposal directed by the organization. Do not offer gifts intended for the personal use of the public servant.
- offer only items of modest or nominal value symbolic of the event/occasion/organization, e.g. a certificate of appreciation, an inexpensive display item with the organizer’s logo or name of the event.
- Don’t offer entertainment to a public servant which
- may be seen as excessive (frequent or lavish) or inappropriate (e.g. entertainment in a nightclub) to a public servant of the government department or public body.
- would give rise to a potential conflict of interest situation for him in relation to his duties/capacity or the perception, or allegations of an intention to “sweeten” the latter.
Request for Assistance
- Don’t make any undue requests to a public servant (e.g. request for favour or assistance that would give them an unfair advantage over other members of the public or users of the public service).
- Use proper channels and follow proper procedures in obtaining public service or asking for assistance or advice in relation to public service.
- Conduct business with the government or public bodies in a fair and proper manner that will not give rise to criticism of impropriety.