2.6 Prevention of Bribery and Corruption

2.6.1 Summary

The University requires its employees:

  • to act in the best interests of the University at all times; and
  • to act with care and impartiality in all dealings with other parties; and
  • to follow the seven Nolan Principles of Public Life:

           Selflessness;     Integrity;      Objectivity;

           Accountability;   Openness;   Honesty;

           Leadership.  

As such, the University of Leicester:

  • is committed to carrying out its academic and business activities in an honest, open and ethical manner; and
  • is committed to observing the provisions of the Bribery Act 2010, in respect of its conduct both in the UK and internationally.
  • will have zero tolerance to any aspect of bribery and corruption both within the University and in respect of any third parties with whom we have dealings.

The Policy applies to all individuals working at all levels and grades, including senior managers, officers, members of the University’s Council, University employees (all staff whether on permanent, fixed term or temporary employment contracts), consultants, contractors, trainees, seconded staff, homeworkers, casual workers and agency staff, volunteers, interns, sponsors or any other person associated with the University wherever located (collectively referred to as “Workers” within this policy).

2.6.2 Background

On 1st July 2011, the Bribery Act came into being. The Act has created a number of new bribery and corruption offences and makes it an offence either directly or through a third party to:

  • offer, promise or give a bribe;
  • request, agree to receive or accept a bribe;
  • offer, promise or give a bribe to a foreign public official in order to obtain, or retain, business, or an advantage in the conduct of business.

In addition there is also a new corporate offence of failing to prevent bribery.

Bribery and corruption are serious criminal offences.  Under the Act, offences committed by individuals can carry a maximum of 10 years imprisonment and an unlimited fine.  In addition, if the University is found to have engaged in corruption then it could face an unlimited fine, face significant reputational damage and could impact of the University’s future ability to conduct business.

The University recognises that such events are likely to be rare. Nevertheless it commits itself to the robust implementation of the Act to ensure that it has adequate and proportionate procedures in place for the governance of the University’s business affairs.

2.6.3 Aim of the Policy

The aim of this Policy is to detail how the University will implement and enforce effective systems to prevent bribery and corruption. As such the policy:-

  • Sets out the University’s responsibilities, together with those of its Workers in observing and upholding the University’s position on bribery and corruption.
  •  Provides information and guidance for its Workers on how to recognise and deal with bribery and corruption issues.

2.6.4 The University’s responsibilities, together with those of its employees and contractors, in observing and upholding the University’s position on bribery and corruption.

  • The University has a responsibility to promote its overarching view on avoiding bribery and corruption. The University has made clear that it has a zero-tolerance to bribery and corruption and that any employee of the University who breaches this policy will face disciplinary action, which could result in dismissal for gross misconduct. 
  • In relation to non-employees and contractors engaged with the University under any other form of contractual relationship, we reserve our right to terminate such contracts in the event of breach of this policy.  
  • The University recognises that all its Workers have a role in the prevention and detection of bribery and corruption.
  • The University’s Colleges and its Divisions of Corporate Services should undertake a periodic risk assessment of the vulnerability of their operations in this area and the potential for bribery.
  • The University has a responsibility to ensure that its terms of business with agents and contractors carry an avoidance of bribery provision which, if breached, will lead to termination of the contract and possible further legal action.
  • Colleges and Corporate Services should keep financial records and have appropriate internal controls in place which will evidence the business reason for making payments to third parties.
  • All Workers must ensure that all hospitality or gifts, either received or given, fall within the University’s Gifts and Hospitality regulations as set out in Section 2.5 of these Financial Regulations. Where there is an element of doubt then authority should be sought from the Registrar and Chief Operating Officer..
  • All Workers have a duty to declare any instances where there may be a conflict of interest in the operation or establishment of business relations with the University.
  • All Workers have a duty to share any concerns they may have with the University. For employees this will initially be with their line manager. Other third parties such as contractors should raise concerns directly with the Registrar and Chief Operating Officer. The line manager may require further guidance which can be obtained from the Registrar and Chief Operating Officer.

2.6.5 Information and guidance for employees, and third parties on how to recognise and deal with bribery and corruption issues

Recognition and definition of bribery.

A bribe is defined as an inducement or advantage offered, promised or provided in order to influence someone to act improperly. Under the Act, improper performance entails breach of an obligation of good faith, impartiality or abuse of a position of trust. The bribe is normally to gain some form of commercial, contractual, regulatory or personal advantage. 

Key aspects of the Act are that:-

  • The bribe can take the form of a financial or other advantage. In this context an advantage has its ordinary literal meaning.  
  • The act of offering or requesting a bribe is enough to commit an offence. It does not have to be paid or received.
  • The bribe does not have to go to the person being influenced. A donation to a third party even a charity can be held to be a bribe.
  • The bribe does not have to be substantial. There is no materiality threshold in the Act.
  • It is no defence to say that the payment was customary in that area of the world for that activity (see facilitation payments below). 
  • The definition of “foreign public official” includes not just members of foreign governments but such people as state sector education employees such as teachers, police and customs officials and providers of visas.

Examples of bribery or corruption in higher education are extremely rare but the following hypothetical examples provide a flavour:-

Offering a bribe

An employee is undertaking applied research and offers to pay multiple times the normal cost to a small local testing company to play down some defects in a product for which future sales benefiting the member of staff and the University have been agreed.

This would be an offence as the employee is making the offer to induce the testing company to act improperly leading to an advantage (Financial remuneration and commercial benefit). The University could also be found to have committed an offence of failing to prevent bribery as the offer has been made by an associated person to obtain business for the University in addition to any personal benefit derived by the staff member.

Receiving a bribe

A contractor/supplier gives a family member of an employee a job, but makes it clear that in return they expect the employee to use his/her position to influence the chances of obtaining University business or another advantage to them in return.

It is an offence for a supplier to make such an offer. It would be an offence for the member of staff to accept the offer as it results in an advantage albeit for the benefit of a third party (the family member).

Bribing a foreign public official

An employee is recruiting overseas students and through an overseas agent makes arrangements to pay a goodwill payment to a government official so that the University can have preferential access to schools where there are high quality students who wish to undertake study in the UK.

The offence of bribing a foreign public official has been committed as soon as the offer is made. This is because it is made to gain a business advantage for the Worker and the University.

2.6.6 Facilitation Payments

In some countries it is sometimes a requirement to have to make payments or gifts of small value to junior government officials in order to speed up or facilitate a routine action or process. Such payments are unlawful under the Act and as such must not be made.  The University does not permit the offer, promise or the making of a facilitation payment by any Worker carrying out business on the University’s behalf. In addition all Workers should avoid any activity that may lead to, or suggest that a facilitation payment will be made by the University.  

However, if a payment is being extorted or a Worker is asked to make such a payment in circumstances where there is no alternative (such as where safety or liberty are under threat) then the payment should be made.  Where this happens a clear record should be made of the reason for the payment and reported to your line manager on return (for employees), who may wish to then report it to the Registrar and Chief Operating Officer. Non-employees should report this to the Registrar and Chief Operating Officer directly.

2.6.7 Dealing with Possible Bribery Events

The University commits itself to deal with any issues of bribery and corruption through two key principles:-

  • All Workers are ENCOURAGED to raise concerns about any issue or suspicion of malpractice at the earliest possible stage.
  • The Registrar and Chief Operating Officer is the University’s Compliance Officer for Prevention of Bribery Act. In addition, the Registrar and Chief Operating Officer also has a key role in the University’s Policy on Whistle-blowing. In the event that an employee has concerns that acts of bribery or corruption are being committed they may wish to bring forward their concerns under the protection offered through that policy.
  • Where an employee has concerns, these should be raised, in the first instance, with the employee’s line manager. If those concerns involve the employee’s line manager, then the Registrar and Chief Operating Officer should be contacted directly. Non-employees should approach the Registrar and Chief Operating Officer directly.
  • The University is committed to ensuring that NO ONE SUFFERS DETRIMENTAL TREATMENT as a result of reporting, in good faith, their suspicion that an actual or potential offence of bribery has taken place. Detrimental treatment includes dismissal, disciplinary action, threats or other unfavourable treatment connected with raising a concern. If an employee believes that he/she has suffered any such treatment, he/she should inform their line manager who will in turn inform the Registrar and Chief Operating Officer . If the matter is not remedied, the employee may then raise it formally using the University’s Grievance Procedures. Non-employees should approach the Registrar and Chief Operating Officer directly.

2.6.8 Further Information

  • All Workers are responsible for the success of this policy and should ensure they use it to disclose any suspected danger or wrongdoing.
  • Workers are invited to comment on this policy and suggest ways in which it might be improved.  Comments and suggestions and queries should be made to the Registrar and Chief Operating Officer.
  • This policy does not form part of any employee’s contract of employment, and it may be amended from time to time.

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