UK Embassies must play greater role in tackling overseas corruption

British embassies are failing to give enough support to help businesses stamp out demands for bribes and facilitation payments abroad.

At a recent debate on ethical dilemmas in the construction industry, held by GoodCorporation at the House of Lords, a number of leading players reported that British Embassies repeatedly failed to take action when demands for bribes were reported.

Critics of the recently delayed Bribery Act claim that the new legislation could harm British exports at a time when the UK is depending on the private sector for growth.  UK embassies need to demonstrate that they are in a position to influence overseas governments and actively support UK companies in their efforts to avoid corrupt payments.

Said Leo Martin, director of business ethics advisors GoodCorporation “Combatting corruption is not just about the Bribery Act and the prospect of prosecution. In addition to ensuring that guidance on the new Act is clear, the UK Government should be demonstrating to businesses that embassy staff and government representatives abroad would be doing all they could to expose systemic corruption and help stamp out demands for corrupt payments.

“By adopting this strategy, the UK Government can simultaneously counter corruption and promote British competitiveness overseas.”

Posted February 2011

Notes to Editors:

1. Leo Martin is available for interviews, briefings or written comment

2. GoodCorporation is a leading adviser in the field of business ethics, specialising in the assessment of responsible business management and anti-corruption practices.

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