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Bribery Act emasculated, warns Christian Aid

March 30 2011 - Guidance published today by the Ministry of Justice effectively emasculates the 2010 UK Bribery Act, Christian Aid is warning.

‘The Bribery Act is an excellent piece of legislation and we fully support it. But the guidance greatly limits its applicability,’ said Eric Gutierrez, Senior Adviser on Governance at Christian Aid.

He highlighted paragraph 40 of the Guidance, which states:

A bribe paid on behalf of a joint venture entity by one of its employees or agents will therefore not trigger liability for members of the joint venture simply by virtue of them benefiting indirectly from the bribe through their investment in or ownership of the joint venture.

‘This is tantamount to telling UK companies that they can join and invest in joint ventures – the typical arrangement in the mining industry – that practice bribery. It directly contradicts the spirit of the Act,’ said Gutierrez.

He also draws attention to problems with paragraph 42, which states:

A bribe paid on behalf of a subsidiary by one of its employees or agents will not automatically involve liability on the part of its parent company, or any other subsidiary of the parent company, if it cannot be shown the employee or agent intended to obtain or retain business or a business advantage for the parent company or other subsidiaries.

“A bribe is a bribe,’ said Gutierrez. ‘At the very least, this statement creates wiggle room that enables parent companies to avoid liability for the bribery done by its subsidiaries.”

Christian Aid has joined other leading charities in criticising the Guidance to the Bribery Act.

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For more information and to arrange interviews with Eric Gutierrez, please contact Rachel Baird on 0207 523 2446 or rbaird@christian-aid.org

Notes to Editors:

1. Christian Aid works in some of the world's poorest communities in nearly 50 countries. We act where the need is greatest, regardless of religion, helping people build the lives they deserve.

2. Christian Aid has a vision, an end to global poverty, and we believe that vision can become a reality. Our report, Poverty Over, explains what we believe needs to be done – and can be done – to end poverty.  Details at http://www.christianaid.org.uk/Images/poverty-over-report.pdf

3. Christian Aid is a member of the ACT Alliance, a global coalition of 100 churches and church-related organisations that work together inhumanitarian assistance and development.  Further details at http://www.actalliance.org

4. Follow Christian Aid's newswire on Twitter: http://twitter.com/caid_newswire

5. For more information about the work of Christian Aid visit www.christianaid.org.uk