Busted! 12 Myths about Corruption
About Advantage
“Accepting an advantage under $500 does not constitute corruption”
There is no monetary limit to the definition of advantage under the Prevention of Bribery Ordinance. The $500 limit is a common misconception.
One is liable for an offence if one gets involved in a bribery act, regardless of the amount of the bribe.
An employee should observe the company’s policy on acceptance of advantages (e.g. permissible value, reporting procedure).
“A loan is not considered an advantage if it is repaid with an interest”
Loan is a kind of advantage, regardless of whether it is repaid or any interest is charged.
Any person who offers or solicits a loan with a corrupt intent shall be guilty of an offence.
“It is not against the law to offer gifts or hampers to my clients on festive occasions”
Gifts and fruit hampers are advantages. It is not against the law if they are offered to the client companies. If they are offered to staff of clients out of a corrupt motive, the offeror may still commit an offence. “Customs” or “trade practice” cannot constitute a defence.
Even if no corruption is involved, staff of the client should observe the company’s policy on acceptance of advantages (e.g. permissible value, reporting procedure).
About Business Operation
“I must offer commission to the intermediary for business referral as it is a trade practice”
If the offering of commission for business referral is a deal between companies but not to an individual staff; or the individual staff has obtained permission from his/her employer for accepting the commission, it does not constitute an offence under the Prevention of Bribery Ordinance.
However, if a person offers commission to an individual staff as a reward for business referral without the approval of the staff’s company, both the offeror and the recipient shall be guilty of a bribery offence.
“Trade practice” does not constitute a defence for bribery.
“There should not be any problem if I sponsor my client’s annual dinner”
Sponsorship is a kind of advantage. You should avoid offering sponsorship to any individual staff. If the sponsorship is out of a corrupt intent, you may still be liable to an offence.
You should understand the policy and arrangement of the client company in accepting sponsorship. Your company may also suitably document and record the sponsorship to avoid any unnecessary suspicion.
“A company director can receive personal benefits at work to subsidise his business expenditures”
A company director is also an agent of the company. Without the approval of the board of directors, a director may commit an offence if he/she accepts any advantage as an inducement to or a reward for abusing entrusted power.
A director should act as a role model and comply with the company’s policies on acceptance of advantages.
About Staff Integrity
“There is no need to report to my company if I win a lucky draw prize in a supplier’s event”
You should report the lucky draw prize to the company as you were attending the supplier’s event in an official capacity.
Proper handling of work-related advantages can avoid conflict of interest in your future dealings with the supplier or even falling into a corruption trap.
“I only need to inform my supervisor after acceptance of advantage at work”
An employee (agent) should obtain approval of his employer (principal) for accepting advantages in relation to the principal’s affairs. Merely informing the supervisor does not mean getting the approval.
Furthermore, a supervisor is also an agent of the company. Unless the company has delegated the approving authority to the supervisor, the supervisor’s approval does not have any legal effect.
The employee should observe the relevant guidelines in the company’s Code of Conduct.
“It is okay to ask my colleague to clock in for me first when I am running late for work”
An employee who, deceives the employer with false documents (e.g. false attendance record), may breach the Prevention of Bribery Ordinance.
Common misbehaviours among colleagues may not only violate the company’s code of conduct, it may also breach the law.
About Corruption
“Corruption that takes place outside Hong Kong is ungoverned by local laws”
If any part of the act of bribery (including offering, soliciting or accepting a bribe) takes place in Hong Kong, it may still be pursued by the ICAC under the Prevention of Bribery Ordinance.
One has to comply with the corresponding local anti-corruption laws when conducting business overseas.
“I need to provide full evidence to lodge a corruption complaint”
Full evidence is not required when lodging a complaint. Report if you have reasonable doubt.
Complainants only need to state the known facts of the suspected case, and ICAC will follow up according to the information provided.
“Corruption is none of my business”
Turning a blind eye to corruption may jeopardise the interests of the company and other stakeholders.
If a person intends to conceal or harbour any bribery acts, he may breach the company’s code and even be implicated in the crime.
Protect yourself, report corruption!
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