Conduct & capability
For employees and lay members of Council
It is Loughborough University’s policy to conduct its business in an honest and ethical way without the use of corrupt practices or acts of bribery to obtain an unfair advantage, both at home and overseas.
The University is committed to the highest level of ethical standards and sound governance arrangements and sets high standards of impartiality, integrity and objectivity in relation to the stewardship of public and private funds for which it is responsible and in the management of its activities. This is not just a cultural commitment on the part of the organisation: it is a legal requirement. Bribery is a criminal offence in most countries and corrupt acts expose the University and its employees to the risk of prosecution, fines and imprisonment, as well as endangering the University’s reputation.
This policy is mandatory and the University attaches the utmost importance to this policy and will apply a ‘zero tolerance’ approach to acts of bribery and corruption by any of our employees or third-party representatives (including students). Any breach of this policy will be regarded as a serious matter which after investigation may lead to disciplinary action and dismissal from the University.
The purpose of this policy is to:
- To set out the University’s responsibilities, and of those working for us, in observing and upholding our position on bribery and corruption; and
- To provide information and guidance to those working for us on how to recognise and deal with bribery and corruption issues.
It is the responsibility of each member of staff whether permanent or temporary; each student; Council member; contractor; and others directly involved in delivering University business activities or acting on the University’s behalf to comply with all relevant legislation countering bribery and corruption, in particular theBribery Act 2010. The Bribery Act 2010 applies to all activities no matter where they are carried out in the world. This policy therefore applies to all of the University’s activities worldwide, whatever the local law, practice or custom may be.
The University does not wish to stifle the development of good working relationships with suppliers, agents, contractors or officials; however, actions must be transparent, proportionate and auditable. The University expects our business partners, agents, suppliers and contractors to act with integrity and without any actions that may be considered as an offence within the meaning of the Bribery Act 2010.
What is a bribe?
i) Bribery can be defined as the offering, promising, giving, accepting or soliciting of an advantage or reward in order to gain a commercial, contractual, regulatory or personal advantage. It is an inducement for an action which is illegal, unethical or a breach of trust. Acts of bribery are designed to influence the individual in the performance of their duty and incline them to act dishonestly. Bribes can take many forms, but typically they involve corrupt intent. There will usually be a ‘quid pro quo’ – both parties will benefit. It does not matter whether the act of bribery is committed before or after the activity has been undertaken.
A bribe could be:
- The direct or indirect promise, offering or authorisation of anything of value
- The offer or receipt of any kickback, loan, fee, reward, gift or other advantage
- The giving of aid, donations or voting designed to exert improper influence
It is an offence under the Bribery Act 2010:
- To offer a bribe
- To receive a bribe
- To bribe a Foreign Public Official
- To consent or connive to the commission of a bribery offence by anyone associated with the University in respect of business carried out on behalf of the University
ii) The University prohibits the offering, giving, solicitation or acceptance of any bribe, whether cash or other inducement:
- To or from any person or company, whether a public official or public body, or a private person or company, wherever situated
- By any individual employee, agent or other person or company acting on the University’s behalf
- In order to gain any commercial, contractual or regulatory advantage for the University in a way which is unethical
- In order to gain any personal advantage, pecuniary or otherwise, for the individual or anyone connected with the individual
iii) The following are examples of bribery. The list is not exhaustive:
- Offering excessive hospitality to a contact to secure a commercial or research project or grant
- Receiving concert tickets from a contact on the understanding that you will, as a result, put business “their way” or award or renew an existing contract
- A contact offers your partner a free long-haul flight if you ensure that their tender for work receives preferential treatment
- Using an overseas intermediary to pay a suggested £1,500 “fee” for expedited approval by a foreign official of a local course proposed to be run by the University
- A student has been unable to secure an undergraduate position at the University due to poor grades, but his father offers a £10,000 donation to a School or research project if the decision is reversed
- The University is seeking planning permission for a new site and the local planning officer suggests that a charitable donation to a local school (where he is governor) will help the University’s cause, though this will be ‘off the record’
- The University is reviewing its IT hardware suppliers. One bidder offers a free iPad for every department head if its bid is successful
i) Role of University
- To provide appropriate training for all staff about the Bribery Act 2010
- To provide suitable channels of communication for reporting suspected incidents and to ensure that sensitive information is treated appropriately
- To investigate instances of alleged bribery
- To taking firm action against any individual involved in bribery
- To monitor the implementation of the policy
- To review the policy annually or more frequently in the event of changes in the University business or legislative change
- To maintain a comprehensive Gift register and ensure that it is regularly reviewed to ensure compliance and best practice
ii) Role of Managers
- To ensure all staff are aware of this policy and of their responsibilities to act in accordance with its procedures
- To monitor contractors and suppliers and within their area of responsibility as part of the regular review of relationships with them
- To undertake effective risk assessment in order to assess the vulnerability of their activities, particularly overseas, on an on-going basis
- To encourage staff to be vigilant and to report any suspicion of bribery
- To record any gifts or hospitality received or given by staff
iii) Role of Individual Members of Staff
- To read and comply with the anti-bribery policy
- To avoid any activity that might lead to, or suggest, a breach of this policy
- To declare the receipt of any gift or hospitality or conflict of interest
- To report any suspected incidents of bribery
- To make sure that they complete the online training when it becomes available
- To notify their line manager or another senior person if they identify a risk which they think has not been addressed by any anti-bribery measures
- Not to accept any gifts or hospitality where these are intended or could be perceived as bribes.
- Not to make any payments unless they have been authorised and are lawful
- Not to look the other way if they become aware of any suspicious activity or wrongdoing and to make sure that this is reported
Penalties for committing an offense
- The offences of bribing another person, being bribed and bribing a foreign public official are punishable on indictment either by an unlimited fine, imprisonment of up to ten years or both
- The new corporate offence of failure to prevent bribery is punishable on indictment by an unlimited fine
- If the University is convicted of Bribery it could find itself permanently debarred from tendering for public-sector contracts, including future research funding
- The University may also be damaged significantly by adverse publicity if it is prosecuted for an offence
- After investigation an individual may be subject to disciplinary action and dismissal from the University
What can we do to prevent bribery and corruption?
We can take the following steps to assist in the prevention of bribery and corruption:
i) Risk assessment
Effective risk assessment lies at the very core of the success of this policy as it identifies the specific areas where the University is exposed to the risk of bribery, allows those risks to be evaluated and appropriate risk mitigation to be put in place. The University Corporate Risk Register is reviewed annually and Schools and support departments are also required to review the adequacy and appropriateness of their local risk registers as part of the annual planning round. However risk assessment must be a continuous process.
ii) Effective monitoring and internal control
Effective systems of monitoring and control are essential in all organisations and the University is no exception. Once bribery and corruption risks have been identified and highlighted through the risk assessment process, we may need to amend procedures to help mitigate these risks on an on-going basis.
Many serious bribery and corruption offences have been found to involve some degree of inaccurate record-keeping. Accurate records and financial reporting must be maintained for all activities and for all third party representatives acting on our behalf. False, misleading or inaccurate records of any kind could potentially damage the reputation of the University.
iii) Use of third-party representatives
The definition of a third-party representative is broad, and could include agents, distributors, consultants and joint venture partners. Third-parties who act on the University’s behalf must operate at all times in accordance with this policy. Managers are responsible for the evaluation of each third-party relationship and determining whether or not there are specific risks. Where specific risks are identified, the third party should be made aware of this policy, and staff should ensure that appropriate enhanced controls are implemented to monitor and control the risk. The University is ultimately responsible for ensuring that third-parties who pose significant risks are compliant with this policy as well as any local laws. Ignorance or ‘turning a blind eye’ is not acceptable.
iv) Facilitation payments
In many countries, it is customary business practice to make payments or gifts of small value to junior government officials in order to speed up or facilitate a routine action or process. Despite this, facilitation payments as defined here are not permitted under this policy and the University takes the view that they are illegal within the UK as well as within most other countries. Current UK legislation makes no distinction between facilitation payments and bribes – regardless of size or local cultural expectations, even if that is ‘how business is done’. However, in the event that a facilitation payment is being extorted, or if you are forced to pay under duress or faced with potential safety issues or harm, you must contact the Chief Operating Officer as soon as possible for further advice. Any payments made under duress must be recorded appropriately to reflect the substance of the underlying transaction. If you are unsure whether certain payments which resemble the definition of facilitation payments are permissible, please contact the Chief Operating Officer.
v) Gifts, entertainment and hospitality
The occasional exchange of business gifts, meals or entertainment is a common practice and is meant to create goodwill and enhance relationships between business partners. These activities are acceptable provided they fall within reasonable bounds of value and occurrence. This policy does not prohibit normal and appropriate hospitality (given and received) to or from third parties. Gifts, entertainment and hospitality includes the receipt or offer of gifts; meals; or tokens of appreciation or gratitude; invitations to events, functions, or other social gatherings; in matters connected with the University business. Staff may accept and offer business courtesies, but such courtesies must be modest enough not to interfere with the ethical judgement of the member of staff and must not create an appearance of impropriety. Corporate hospitality and gifts (whether received or provided) must be transparent, auditable and proportionate. However, if these business courtesies are given or received with the intention of influencing business decisions or they become excessive they can create a sense of personal obligation on the part of the recipient which can interfere with the individual’s ability to be impartial in the transaction and so be construed as bribes.
Gifts, hospitality and expenses present significant risks related to bribery. They may be used by corrupt third parties to groom the University’s employees to a position of obligation and prepare the way for bribery, or may be made corruptly by an employee to build favours with prospective clients. Negligence, inexperience and ignorance can equally be risks when giving or receiving gifts, hospitality and expenses. In some societies the business culture includes gift giving and entertaining and it may prove difficult for employees to know how to manoeuvre through the various social customs and balance the desire not to cause offence whilst on the other hand not violating this anti-bribery policy.
It is not acceptable to:
- Give, promise to give, or offer, a payment, gift or hospitality with the expectation or hope that a business or personal advantage will be received, or to reward a business or personal advantage already given
- Accept a gift or hospitality from a third party if you know or suspect that it is offered or provided with an expectation that a business or personal advantage will be provided in return
- Accept or offer a gift of cash or cash equivalent (e.g. vouchers or gift certificates) under any circumstances
- Offer to, or accept a gift from, government or public officials or representatives, or politicians or political parties, without the prior approval of the Chief Operating Officer
It is acceptable to receive/offer a gift or hospitality if:
- Both parties are placed under no obligation as a result of this activity
- There is no expectation that any business or personal advantage/gift or hospitality will be offered or received by the other party as a result of such action
- Taking into account the reason for the gift, it is of an appropriate type and value and given at an appropriate time
- It is appropriate to the relationship and accords with general business practice and local customs
- It is a gift of nominal value, such as an advertising novelty (pen, diary, calendar, mug etc.) and it is customarily offered to others having a similar relationship with that individual or organisation
- It is compliant with relevant laws
- The transaction is made openly, fully documented and reported to management, where it is of more than nominal value
In general, receipt of hospitality in the following circumstances would be acceptable:
- Attendance at a general demonstration of office or other equipment and services
- Attendance at ceremonies associated with the opening of buildings
- Attendance at dinners or functions organised by societies or other bodies
- Attendance at functions of other academic institutions
- Attendance at business meetings
There may be occasions when students wish to pass small tokens of appreciation to staff, for example on special occasions or as a thank-you and this is acceptable. However, it is unacceptable to receive gifts on a regular basis or of any significant value. Care should also be taken to ensure that staff do not accept any gift of any kind from students that might be construed as a bribe by others, or lead the giver to expect preferential treatment. To that end, the decision whether or not to accept such a gift must also consider the timing (as well as the value) of the gift; for example, it would be inappropriate to accept a gift prior to marking an exam paper.
The University Gift Register is held by the Director of Finance. Each School and support department must record the receipt by any of its members of any gift or hospitality and forward this information to email@example.com. Trivial items such as promotional gifts of pens or mugs need not be reported centrally.
If a gift or hospitality is not in keeping with circumstances then every effort must be made to refuse the offer without offending the person or organisation making the offer. If the gift cannot be refused it should be declared on return to the University and entered on the Gift Register and held by the University for display or disposal where appropriate.
How to raise a concern about suspected incidents of bribery
We all have a responsibility to help detect, prevent and report instances not only of bribery, but also of any other suspicious activity or wrongdoing. The University is absolutely committed to ensuring that all staff have a safe, reliable and confidential way of reporting suspicious activity. The University wants each and every one to know how they can ‘speak up’. Staff are encouraged to raise concerns about any issue or suspicion of bribery at the earliest possible stage. If you are concerned that activity that is being considered or carried out, or if you are unsure whether a particular activity constitutes bribery or corruption, then you may contact the Chief Operating Officer or your line manager in confidence. It is important that you report as soon as possible if you are offered a bribe by a third party, are asked to make one, suspect that this may happen in the future, or believe that you are a victim of another form of unlawful activity.
The University’s Anti-Fraud, Corruption and Whistleblowing Policy provides a channel to allow staff, students and all members of University bodies (e.g. University Committees) to raise, at high level, concerns or information which they, in good faith, believe provides evidence of malpractice or impropriety. Individuals discovering apparent evidence of malpractice, bribery, impropriety or wrongdoing within the University should feel able to disclose the information appropriately without fear of reprisal. Colleagues who refuse to accept or offer a bribe, or those who raise concerns or report another's wrongdoing, are sometimes worried about possible repercussions. The University will support anyone who raises genuine concerns in good faith under this policy and is committed to ensuring no one suffers any detrimental treatment as a result of refusing to take part in bribery or corruption, or because of reporting in good faith their suspicions about bribery. Detrimental treatment includes dismissal, disciplinary action, threats or other unfavourable treatment connected with raising a concern. If you believe that you have suffered any such treatment, you should inform your line manager. The HR Department may be contacted for advice and support. If the matter is not remedied, and you are an employee, you should raise it formally using the University’s Grievance Procedures.