15 Oct 2019 - by Andrew MacKay

Reducing Risks and Ensuring Compliance: A4ID’s Development Partners Receive Training on Key Bribery and Sanctions Issues

A4ID recently held two legal trainings on compliance issues that are currently very pertinent to the development sector: ‘Bribery and Corruption’ and ‘Sanctions, Risks and Compliance for NGOs’.

The content of both trainings was specifically tailored to the concerns of NGOs, charities and other not-for-profit organisations, as well as start-up social enterprises working in international development. The success of the trainings was demonstrated by the positive response from participants, 100% of whom indicated that their knowledge had improved as a result of the trainings.

Ensuring Bribery Compliance

The first of the two trainings, which took place on 19 September 2019, was delivered by Reed Smith Senior Associate, Simone Goligorsky. Simone’s extensive experience relating to cross-border regulatory and compliance issues provided participants with an insight into the red flags that they need to look out for regarding bribery and corruption compliance. According to one of the participants, the training was “very useful as I was not aware of liability when working abroad… Having worked abroad for years for organisations that have a UK presence, I was surprised that I had not received training on this before.”

The UK Bribery Act 2010 (UKBA) has been in force for almost a decade. Enforcement actions are slowly increasing, and the penalties and sanctions are becoming stricter and more severe. Between 2011 and 2017, 35 charges were made under the UKBA, resulting in 28 convictions. The training explained the major offences under the Act and suggested various policies that organisations can implement (such as gift and hospitality policies), to ensure they are able to demonstrate their compliance.

Feedback from the training participants was overwhelmingly positive, with one participant stating that Simone’s recommendation for “…record keeping, if bribery is brought to our attention, will be implemented in our organisation when entering into new partnerships”. To accompany the training, Reed Smith have also produced A Compliance Guide for the UK Bribery Act 2010, which provides further information to help actors in the development sector to stay on the right side of the law.

Avoiding Sanction Risks

Following the Bribery and Corruption training, A4ID’s Legal Partner, Mayer Brown delivered a training on Sanctions, Risks and Compliance for NGOs on 26 September 2019. Led by Mayer Brown Senior Associate, Paul Whitfield-Jones, who specialises in transactional advice and investigations related to economic sanctions, the training provided a useful overview of EU, UK and US sanctions and how they apply to not-for-profit organisations operating in sanctioned countries.

The training was dynamic and participatory, testing participants on the differences in how EU, UK and US sanctions are applied and offering them the opportunity to share their experiences of managing sanctions’ risks. According to one participant, the highlight of the session was, “Hearing other participants share challenges and best practices about their experience with sanctions, as well as their screening processes.”

Equipping participants with a clearer understanding of the risks associated with operating in sanctioned countries, will help those who attended to improve their provision of vital services to people living under sanctioned regimes. “It was interesting to learn about what countries are on the sanctions’ list and how to deal with potential issues. Particularly important, was [learning] how to make sure due diligence is carried out,” another participant told us.

The trainers directed participants to the UK government’s Office of Financial Sanctions Implementation’s (OFSI) Factsheet for charities and other non-governmental organisations for additional information about UK sanctions and recommended that organisations screen their partners using the OFSI search tool to help ensure their compliance with UK sanctions. Participants also had the opportunity to discuss their individual concerns related to sanctions compliance with the trainers during the breaks.

Whether you attended the trainings or were unable to make them, A4ID welcomes requests for legal advice in relation to bribery and corruption or sanctions compliance, so please do not hesitate to contact us for help.