Bribery and Fraud Policy
Last Updated 28 Oct 2023 in Business Conduct
The Society has a zero tolerance approach towards all fraud, bribery and corruption. This policy explains how such crimes are dealt with and should be read in conjunction with the Hospitality & Gifts Policy.
Key points covered:
How we define economic crime
How to report any suspicions of bribery or fraud
The responsibilities managers hold in dealing with these issues
1.1.The Society has a zero-tolerance approach towards all fraud, bribery and corruption (“economic crimes”) in the workplace. These practices affect the integrity and business reputation of the Society. Economic crimes also cause the Society’s resources to be wrongfully diverted and not used for their intended purpose.
1.2.This Policy explains what economic crime is, provides guidance to colleagues, ensuring they can (a) recognise economic crime and (b) understand the correct reporting requirements and procedure.
1.3.This Policy should be read in conjunction with the Society’s Gifts and Hospitality Policy. This refers to the risk of accepting or giving any gift or hospitality where such acceptance or giving can create the perception of bribery having occurred.
1.4.This Policy does not form part of any colleague's contract of employment and we may amend it at any time.
1.5.This Policy explains the controls the Society has in place to comply with relevant legislation related to Bribery and Fraud.
2.1.This Policy applies to all persons working for the Society or on its behalf in any capacity, including colleagues at all levels, directors, officers, agency workers, seconded workers, volunteers, interns, agents, contractors, external consultants, third-party representatives and business partners.
2.2.This Policy also applies to spouses, partners or other associates if it can be perceived that the bribery or fraudulent act is in fact for the benefit of the interested colleague.
3. Associated documents
3.1 The Society’s associated policies and documents are:
- Gifts and Hospitality Register(maintained by the Society Secretary and not published on colleagues connect)
4. What is Bribery and Fraud?
4.1. These are serious matters as both Fraud and Bribery carry a maximum sentence of 10 years imprisonment and a fine.
4.2. The law in the UK that deals with fraud is the Fraud Act 2006. This created a criminal offence of fraud and defines three ways of committing it:
- Fraud by false representation
- Fraud by failing to disclose information
- Fraud by abuse of position.
4.3. Fraud occurs when a person’s conduct is dishonest and their intention is to make a gain or cause a loss (or the risk of a loss) to another party, for example the Society, a colleague or a supplier.
4.4. The law in the UK that deals with bribery is the Bribery Act 2010. This introduced a corporate offence where organisations may be subject to criminal liability and an unlimited fine, for failing to prevent bribery.
4.5. Bribe means a financial or other inducement or reward for action which is illegal, unethical, a breach of trust or improper in any way. Bribes can take the form of money, gifts, loans, fees, hospitality, services, discounts, the award of a contract or any other advantage or benefit.
4.6. Bribery includes offering, promising, giving, accepting or seeking a bribe.
4.7. Specifically, you must not:
- give or offer any payment, gift, hospitality or other benefit in the expectation that a business advantage will be received in return, or to reward any business received;
- accept any offer from a third party that you know or suspect is made with the expectation that we will provide a business advantage for them or anyone else; or
- give or offer any payment (sometimes called a facilitation payment) to a government official in any country to facilitate or speed up a routine or necessary procedure.
4.8. All forms of bribery are strictly prohibited. If you are unsure about whether a particular act constitutes bribery, raise it with your manager, the Society Secretary or the Head of Audit and Risk and Compliance.
4.9. You must not threaten or retaliate against another person who has refused to offer or accept a bribe, or who has raised concerns about possible bribery or corruption.
5. Gifts and Hospitality
5.1. The Society’s Gifts and Hospitality Policy sets out the procedure all colleagues must follow when being offered, or giving, gifts and hospitality.
6. Reporting Procedure
6.1. If you are offered a bribe, or are asked to make one, or if you suspect that any bribery, corruption or other breach of this policy has occurred or may occur, you must notify the Society’s Secretary & Head of Governance and/or the Head of Audit and Risk and Compliance as soon as possible. The contact details can be found in section 9.
6.2. Any accusations of fraud or bribery will be thoroughly investigated and, if found to be true, appropriate action will be taken. Where those involved are employed by the Society, it will result in disciplinary action being taken which may lead to dismissal. Where those involved are not employed by the Society, they may have their contract terminated with immediate effect. Where those involved have not yet contracted with the Society, they will be excluded from future procurement opportunities.
6.3. Any accusations of fraud or bribery found to be malicious could result in disciplinary action being taken against those making the false allegations.
6.4. The Society is prepared to take cases of fraud or bribery to the Police or other relevant authority, regardless of any person’s relationship with the Society, their position, or their length of service. This could result in prison sentences being imposed on the perpetrators.
6.5. The Society may take action to recover any money, assets or stock lost as a result of fraud or bribery; it can do so by:
- Retaining the lost money, or the value of the lost assets or stock, directly from the relevant colleague’s pay
- Applying to the Courts to freeze the assets of the colleague(s) concerned to secure payment of any fine imposed on the Society as a result of their actions.
6.6. Colleagues should not be afraid to report genuine suspicions of fraud, bribery or corruption. The Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998 protects employees who have reasonable concerns, and they will not suffer discrimination or victimisation for following the correct procedures.
6.7. A useful Do’s and Don’ts guidance is enclosed in Appendix 1, which summarises what actions colleagues should, or should not, take to comply with this Policy.
7. Managers’ Responsibilities
7.1. All managers are responsible for ensuring that this Policy is adhered to within their business area. Managers should ensure that all colleagues in their teams are aware of fraud, bribery and corruption risks, and that they understand the importance of protecting the Society against them.
7.2. If a manager suspects, or is made aware, that someone in their team or a third party may be committing fraud, bribery or corruption, they must immediately report their suspicions (see section 6.1).
7.3. Managers should in no circumstances investigate suspicions or allegations themselves.
8. Reporting Other Concerns Anonymously
8.1. If colleagues wish to report any concern, other than economic crime, they should refer to the Society’s Whistleblowing Policy for details on how to report their concerns anonymously through the whistleblowing confidential line (0800 458 78 09).
8.2. Alternatively, colleagues can raise their concerns, in confidence and directly to the Executive, through the “Speak in Confidence” service. This is an online service and concerns can be logged here.
9. Contact Details
9.1.The Society’s Secretary & Head of Governance is Edward Parker, who can be contacted by email: firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone: 01926 516 006 – mobile: 07976 055 427.
9.2.The Society’s Head of Audit and Risk and Assurance is James Marriott, who can be contacted by email: email@example.com or by telephone: 01926 516000.
9.3.Both the Society Secretary and the Head of Audit and Risk and Assurance can also be contacted by post: The Midcounties Co-operative, Co-operative House, Warwick Technology Park, Warwick CV34 6DA.
10.Breach of Policy and Investigation Process
10.1. Depending on the nature of the incident, the Head of Audit and Risk and Assurance and/or the Secretary & Head of Governance will decide what action to take and will be responsible for the conduct of the investigation.
10.2. Internal Audit, Loss Prevention and HR may be involved in the investigation process. In addition, the Police or other relevant authorities may become involved, where appropriate.
10.3. The Society will take all reasonable steps to keep confidential the identity of the colleague raising the concerns. However, if there is a requirement for written statements or evidence gathering, either internally or by the Police or other authorities, it may become necessary to disclose the colleague’s identity to maintain the integrity of the investigation.
10.4. It is essential that due process is followed to enable a full and fair investigation and explanation. Individuals suspected of inappropriate actions will be treated fairly and no conclusions will be made without appropriate examination of all the evidence.
11. Policy Review
11.1. This Policy will be reviewed at least every other year and amended as and when required.
Bribery and Fraud Policy: DO’S and DONT’S
Note Your Concerns- record details such as your concerns, names, dates, times, details of conversations and possible witnesses. Time, date and sign your notes
Retain Evidence- retain any evidence that may be destroyed, or make a note and report your concerns
Report Your Suspicion- confidentiality will be respected; act promptly as delays may lead to further wrongdoing and/or financial loss to the Society.
Confront The Suspect Or Tell Your Colleagues- never attempt to question a suspect yourself; this could alert a fraudster or accuse an innocent person. Report your suspicions
Try To Investigate, Or Contact The Authorities Directly- never attempt to gather evidence yourself unless it is about to be destroyed; gathering evidence must take into account legal procedures in order for it to be useful
Be Afraid Of Raising Your Concerns- the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998 protects employees who have reasonable concerns. You will not suffer discrimination or victimisation by following the correct procedures.
Bribery and Fraud Policy
Date of last review: