Corporate gifts and donations: when to say no thank you


A brief guide to avoiding bribery

Gifts and donations are often a part of business, whether it is cultural norms or celebrating a completed negotiation. However, there are certain instances in which it is important to be vigilant of the circumstances behind donations as they may be attempts to bribe. here is a short guide to spotting potential red flags and avoiding bribery.

Charitable or political donations can be viewed as attempts of bribery if there is something unusual about the inherent qualities or timing of the donation. Bribery is not always a mutual arrangement and it may not be known to the donee if there is a bribe occurring. When receiving gifts and donations it is important to be vigilant as some types may be seen as improper.

One question you can ask yourself is, “will this gift be perceived as an attempt to improperly influence my behaviour?” If the answer is yes or if you are unsure, it is best to politely refuse the gift. Any attempt to curry favour with a business or individual through gifts, donations, travel, or accommodation is an act of bribery.

What is the FCPA?

The Foreign Corrupt Policies Act is an American legislation that outlaws any attempts of bribery of foreign officials. It applies to any US official, resident, or organisation who acts in any foreign practice. Additionally, it is applicable to any person who has a certain degree of connection to the United States whether they are present in the country or not

Prohibited conduct

A bribe does not need to be completed to become an illegal act. The promise of a payment for illegal purposes is sufficient and each violation can lead to prison sentences and heavy fines for both individuals and corporations. The following is a list of prohibited conduct from the Foreign Corrupt Policies Act.

  • Payment, offers, authorisation, or a promise to pay money or anything of value
  • For the purpose of (a) influencing any act or decision of that person, (b) inducing the person to do or omit any action in violation of their lawful duty, (c) securing an improper advantage, or (d) inducing the person to use their influence to affect an official act or decision
  • In order to assist in obtaining or retaining business for or with, or directing any business to, any person
  • Failure to prevent – organisations can be held vicariously liable for the conduct of their employees