According to ongoing research at the World Bank Institute (WBI), US$1 trillion is paid in bribes each year.

In February 2016, the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) secured a conviction against the UK Aim-listed firm Sweett Group plc, for its failure to prevent a bribery culture in a subsidiary firm operating in the Middle East. The company was fined £2.25 million.

More recently, in September 2016, Ronald Harper, Deputy Property Manager with the Royal Household, was convicted for five years after being found guilty of accepting bribes of more than £100k. Directors of at least two companies involved, were found guilty of conspiracy to make corrupt payments and each sentenced to 18 months.

In most jurisdictions, it is an offence for individuals to engage in bribery. However, in recognition that the law alone is not sufficient to combat bribery, more needs to be done by organisations to proactively address this issue.

In order to assist organisations to fight bribery, in October, The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) published ISO 37001: 2016 Anti-bribery Management Systems. This standard is aimed at helping organisations (public or private) of any size and in any country, to establish, implement, maintain and improve an Anti-Bribery compliance programme. The guidance includes good practice measures and controls.

Pertinent to those persons responsible for compliance oversight of recruitment and employee screening in their organisation, section 7 of the standard includes recommendations for carrying out due diligence on personnel (From Directors to Volunteers) before they are employed and again on transfer or promotion.

At Risk Advisory, we recommend that all firms should have a robust employee screening programme, which not only helps prevent fraud and theft, but enables organisations to demonstrate that strong Anti-Bribery controls are in place. ISO 37001 promotes verification of qualifications and employment history, as well as checking whether individuals have direct links to public officials, or evidence of previous involvement in bribery.

Organisations accredited to, or working towards accreditation of ISO 37001 should also consider extending its due diligence requirement to supply chains and other counterparties or intermediaries.

By: Michael Whittington, Head of Employee Screening

If you require more information on Risk Advisory’s employee screening service please contact Michael Whittington, Head of Employee Screening by email at