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The RICS have doled out a handful of fines over the last few years relating to breaches of code, dishonesty and bribery. The largest fine to date – £125,000 plus £4,590 in costs) – was imposed on Sweett Group in February 2016, whose subsidiary company, Cyril Sweett International Ltd., bribed a Middle Eastern client in order to win a hotel contract. This is in addition to criminal fines of £2.3 million and a confiscation order ruled by Southward Crown Court.
The Bribery Act 2010 was implemented on 1st July 2011 following the Carlsberg Report 2010, and now means that failing to report bribery is a corporate criminal offence. Companies will be held responsible for the actions of their employees unless they make sure to put adequate policies and procedures in place. The maximum penalty is 10 years in prison and/or an unlimited fine and/or expulsion from the profession.
The Sweett Group contract, granted by the Al Ain Ahlia Insurance Company in the United Arab Emirates, was investigated by the Serious Fraud Office in 2014, which determined that the firm did not have any preventative systems in place to stop bribes made by their employees, and were therefore held responsible for the activity. Internal risk audits conduct by KPMG in 2011 and 2014 were ignored, although the company did eventually self-report to the Serious Fraud Office. Deterrent systems and training have since been established, however the share price remains 10% under its trading last year.
This news was brought to you by Morgan Pryce, a specialist tenant acquisition agent with offices in Oxford Circus and the City. Morgan Pryce specialises in search, negotiation and project management and works exclusively for tenants.