To eradicate bribery seems to be on the common business agenda to increase public, investor and shareholder confidence. The big challenge can be split in two; first the pressure of compliance from laws around Bribery. And second, how you find the time to hammer out a solution to formalise your monthly close reconciliations without tying your resources down?
Bribery – why all the fuss?
Firstly it is not just the person doing the bribing or being the receiver of the bribe that is in jeopardy. It is the company responsibility, with individual directors being liable!
Secondly, the finance department’s responsibilities are not as usual according to the country the company is situated in. No, the different acts on Bribery as for the Anti-Bribery Convention (by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development’s – OECD), the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (in USA), or the recent Bribery Act 2012 (in the United Kingdom) which has a near-universal jurisdiction, allowing for the prosecution of an individual and her employing company, regardless of where the bribery crime occurred. The threshold is that if the bribery would be seen as a crime in the above countries, it is a punishable crime even if it was performed in any other country, being it Bhutan or East Timor.
Thirdly, the oh-so-large fines. If an individual is found guilty of a bribery offence according to the Bribery Act in the United Kingdom, they may be imprisoned for up to 12 months and fined up to £5,000. Someone found guilty on indictment, however, faces up to 10 years imprisonment and an unlimited fine.
- In addition, a convicted individual or organisation may be subject to a confiscation order under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002, while a company director who is convicted may be disqualified under the Company Directors Disqualification Act 1986.
Regardless, the Act makes it essential to review risks and put in place any necessary procedures to prevent bribery and mitigate the risk of committing offences, which includes offering or giving a bribe or accepting one. Actually companies are required to have a system in place to prevent employees or representatives to be involved.
Since the true nature of bribery is a carefully elaborated undercover operation, and with the given above demands, it becomes a challenge of challenges to prevent it by any Chief Financial Officer and Finance Department.
TeliaSonera, a telecom company (with presence in Nordic countries and all the way to Nepal) has just fired its Chief Financial Officer (and three other executives). The fault not being bribery or money laundering, but because it seems the CFO had not systematically done enough to ensure bribery wasn’t an option.
Lastly, in recent years there has been an increased pressure to eradicate the corruption that enables bribery. And this pressure also seems to hit Small and Medium Enterprises:
- A poll by ACCA, the Global Body for Professional Accountants, revealed that nearly half of the polled accountants (49%) claim that their lack of confidence in the Bribery Act is because there is insufficient guidance about bribery and corruption available for Small and Medium Enterprise.
We all know the pressure any Finance Department is under, especially the Month End Close reconciliations is a returning and time consuming mad dash every month, as revealed in the Adra Match survey.
- With the pressure to eradicate bribery, and since it not only seems to hit large enterprises but even small and medium, it becomes a general question for any Finance Department: How free up the time for becoming compliant?
Kill two birds with one stone
Why not free up time for the Finance Department by automating the mad dash and time consuming Month End Close reconciliations, and deliver accurate balance sheet reconciliations of all of your account entries in minutes as opposed to hours?
Why not enjoy a dashboard overview of all activities, tasks and processes, ensure the reported numbers and the month end close reconciliations really meets the demands for governance, risk and compliance, you already have?
The smarter way to close your books is to invest in specialist financial close software, such as balance sheet reconciliation solution BALANCER. Each user of this Cloud-based software has a unique login ID, making tracking and auditing an on-going process.
By doing so, you have increased the trust in the number you report, and freed up a lot of time for battling issues that really can be time consuming to stomp out, as how to ensure bribery won’t be an option for any employee. Indeed, you’ve killed to birds with one stone.
For a smarter, more secure month-end close try your own free demo of balance sheet reconciliation software BALANCER today.
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