In 2018, the UK Prime Minister launched the cross-government Business Integrity Initiative, which provides practical guidance to to micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) on issues such as bribery and human rights concerns to help businesses trade with and invest in new markets.
For one element — the Business Integrity Consultancy Service — the Basel Institute on Governance has been mandated to provide cost- and time-effective anti-corruption guidance to MSMEs in the following three areas:
Prevention guidance: Services can include consultation on how to assess a company’s bribery and corruption risks and the status of current controls, as well as information on corruption risks in specific countries or sectors.
Compliance guidance: Services can include training and guidance on how to comply with the UK Bribery Act and other relevant anti-corruption laws and regulations. The aim is to reduce the risks of legal liability and penalties for firms and individuals, and guide on remedial strategies to address situations when things go wrong.
Collective Action guidance: Anti-corruption Collective Action involves multistakeholder collaboration to promote fair competition and tackle corruption risks in overseas markets. Services can include hands-on support for launching new anti-corruption Collective Action Initiatives, engaging in existing Initiatives and setting up sustainable public-private dialogue mechanisms to advocate for policy reforms in target countries.
The UK government will provide match funding between 60 percent and 80 percent, depending on company size, for up to five days of consultancy guidance (or ten days in the case of Collective Action). To be eligible for these services, a business should qualify as an MSME (up to 250 employees with a turnover of up to £44 million) and invest in or trade with countries that receive official development assistance. Preference might be given to companies operating in Africa or Asia.
MSMEs interested in learning more about the available anti-corruption guidance services are encouraged to review the eligibility criteria and download an application form through the Business Integrity Consultancy Service website.
Other elements of the Business Integrity Initiative include online guidance for exporters highlighting integrity risks to be aware of when doing business abroad and forthcoming market-specific information for the pilot markets of Kenya, Pakistan, and Mexico. The pilots will test how the UK government can effectively deliver business integrity support through UK missions or British Chambers of Commerce. In addition to the Basel Institute’s anti-corruption mandate, the initiative has also appointed the Ethical Trading Initiative to provide MSME guidance services on how to manage human rights risks in overseas markets and promote compliance with the UK Modern Slavery Act.
The Business Integrity Initiative is managed by the Business Integrity Hub ([email protected]) within the UK Department for International Development (DFID). While it has received seed funding in the value of £1.4 million from DFID’s International Action against Corruption (IACT) programme, it is being jointly implemented in partnership with other UK government departments, in particular the Department for International Trade and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
This unique cross-government collaboration demonstrates how promoting business integrity can lead to increased and sustainable trade and investment that benefits industrialised and emerging markets alike. The initiative is also an innovative step in promoting anti-corruption compliance and Collective Action in line with the UK Anti-Corruption Strategy.
Our thanks to the FCPA Blog and its readers for helping to spread the word and encourage MSMEs to use these resources and apply for cost-effective guidance from the UK’s Business Integrity Consultancy Service.