Police Detective Chief Inspector Nicholas Pedro has issued a public advisory on what qualifies as bribery and corruption, under the Bribery Act 2016, which went into effect on September 1st.
In a statement released yesterday, the senior officer attached to the Economic Crime Department said: “This significant piece of legislation has potential ramifications for a wide cross-section of the public, in contrast to historical legislation aimed at corruption that only applied to ‘public officials’.
“The new Act creates offences designed to tackle the issue of bribery, whether committed in Bermuda or overseas,” said Mr Pedro, who also listed what qualifies as a bribe:
- Improper hiring
- Hospitality & entertainment
“Many types of payments or acts can constitute a bribe: tips, gifts, perks, favours, discounts, waived fees or tickets, free food or drink, free acts, free trips, free tickets, kickbacks/paybacks, funding, inflated sale of objects or property, lucrative contracts, political campaign contributions, sponsorship/backing, higher paying job, stock options, secret commissions, and promotions.
“If any money, gifts or acts such as above are available to everyone on an equivalent basis, and not for dishonest purposes, it is not bribery,” he said.
He also noted that it’s important for “all organisations across Bermuda”, including Corporate, Government and all sizes of independent businesses, to “educate and inform their staff about the impact of the legislation”.
“The Act has almost universal jurisdiction, allowing for the prosecution of individuals or companies with links to Bermuda – regardless of where the alleged bribe occurred,” said Mr Pedro.
“General bribery offences apply to acts of bribery committed anywhere in the world by companies incorporated in Bermuda and doing business in Bermuda, as well as individuals who are Bermudian citizens, or ordinarily resident in Bermuda,” he added.
He also listed what qualifies as offences under the Act, including general bribery, which “covers offering, promising or giving of a financial or other advantage”, or “covering the requesting, agreeing to receive or accepting of a financial or other advantage”. “Therefore both the person requesting a bribe, and the person giving commits a criminal offence of bribery.”
The Act also covers Foreign Public Official, and carries strict liability when commercial organisations fail to prevent bribery, subject to an ‘adequate procedures’ defense. Failure to report an offence on the part of public officials on instances involving bribery and corruption, or interfering “with this duty by public officials to report”, is also an offence.
The penalties call for fines not exceeding $500,000 or ten years imprisonment, or both; on conviction on indictment, to an unlimited fine or to imprisonment for a term of 15 years, or both.
Any other person found guilty of an offence under this Act (other than an offence under Section 9) is liable on Summary conviction, to a fine not exceeding $500,000; on conviction on indictment, to an unlimited fine.
A person guilty of an offence under Section 9 (failure of commercial organisations to prevent bribery) is liable on conviction on indictment to an unlimited fine.
“It is strongly recommended that individuals and other entities research, train and instruct their staff on the provisions of this Act by implementing a robust anti-corruption framework in order to prevent, detect, and address bribery and corruption,” said Mr Pedron.
“This should also include providing ‘whistleblowing’ procedures for employees and staff. Communication is an effective measure in preventing bribery and corruption, combined with top level commitment to preventing and detecting it in the first place,’ he added.
“In order to effectively combat bribery and corruption, the Bermuda Police Service (BPS) recommends – Top Level Commitment, Risk Assessment and Act on Gaps.
“The BPS is the official entity to which individuals, public officials, or companies should report instances of bribery and corruption,” he said.
“The Organised and Economic Crime Department is available and ready to address any questions or reports relating to the Act.”
For more information contact the Organised and Economic Department on 247-1757 or 295-0011.