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Visit Scotland | Alba

1. Introduction

With the introduction of the Bribery Act 2010, it is now a criminal offence for anyone to give or receive any financial or other advantage which encourages improper performance or is intended to do so.

Additionally, it introduced a new crime of “failure to prevent” bribery, which means that organisations unable to demonstrate that they have implemented “adequate procedures” to prevent corrupt practices within their organisation, or by third parties on their behalf, could be found guilty of an offence under the Act.

2. Who is this Policy for?

This policy is for:

  • board members
  • leadership Group
  • all members of staff and others directly involved in delivering its business activities (including retained consultants or contracting third parties acting on behalf of VisitScotland)

All geographic locations and functions within which VisitScotland or associated third parties operate.

The Leadership Group has ultimate responsibility for ensuring that their respective business areas establish systems and controls to comply with this Policy.

Employees are reminded of the requirement to familiarise themselves with all the policies referenced on this page.

3. The Bribery Act 2010

The principal provisions of the Bribery Act include:

  • two general criminal offences covering the offering, promising or giving of a bribe (active bribery) and the requesting, agreeing to receive or accepting of a bribe (passive bribery)
  • a discrete offence of bribing a foreign public official in order to obtain or retain business or an advantage in the conduct of business
  • an offence which can be committed by commercial organisations which fail to prevent bribery committed on their behalf
  • raising the maximum sentence for bribery committed by an individual from 7 to 10 years imprisonment. The maximum sentence for an offence committed by a corporate body is an unlimited fine
  • penalties from more than one jurisdiction may also apply in a single case of bribery or corruption

4. Scope and application of this policy

VisitScotland is committed to the highest level of ethical standards and sound governance arrangements and sets high standards of impartiality, integrity and objectivity in relation to the stewardship of public funds and the management of its activities.

VisitScotland adopts a zero-tolerance policy to bribery and corruption of any kind.

The conduct of VisitScotland Board Members, Leadership Group, staff and others directly involved in delivering its business activities (including retained consultants or contracting third parties acting on our behalf) form an essential part of these governance arrangements and ethical standards.

General rules relating to conduct and disciplinary action are contained within employment terms and conditions. Specific policies and procedures in place relating to the prevention of bribery and corruption are summarised within this policy, but for detailed guidance you must read the appropriate policy documents as mentioned.

The principles contained within this policy apply to both internal and external audiences, including anyone wishing to undertake business or engage with VisitScotland.

5. Third parties

You need to be aware that any arrangements with third parties can potentially present VisitScotland with significant risks where third parties conduct activities on the organisation’s behalf, so that the result of their actions can be seen as benefitting VisitScotland.

Third parties who act on behalf of VisitScotland must be advised of the existence of, and operate at all times in accordance with, this policy.

In so far as procurement and the arrangement of events/sponsorship is identified as being of particular risk in this respect, “in house” due diligence procedures must be followed when appointing and retaining third parties, and a risk assessment should also be carried out, as required, to determine whether the third party is considered to be a high, medium or low risk to VisitScotland.

VisitScotland standard terms and conditions are to be used which specify the scope of the work and inform the third party of VisitScotland’s Anti-Bribery and Corruption policy and any other related policies.

6. Active bribery

As a government agency VisitScotland will not tolerate any internal action which encourages, implies, bestows, tolerates or promises an unfair, unlawful, improper or unethical advantage to any individual, group or organisation, regardless of whether there is financial inducement or not, and this is covered in more detail by the VisitScotland Policy on the Receipt  & Provision of Gifts, Hospitality & Hosting.

Staff should make themselves aware of the details of this policy and its implications in terms of the prevention of bribery and corruption.

Key measures designed to eliminate or reduce the likelihood of active bribery include existing financial controls and constraints, the transparent reporting and publishing of all payments over £25,000, centralised contract reporting, due diligence measures when taking on new suppliers or partners, procurement guidelines, the use of standard terms and conditions, internal and external auditing procedures and the publication of financial accounts.

7. Passive bribery

As a government agency VisitScotland will not tolerate the acceptance of bribes to induce a favourable contractual decision, purchase or sale, property transaction or other business outcome.

At all times VisitScotland expects its Board Members, Leadership Group, staff and any consultants and third parties acting on our behalf to conduct their work ethically and to fully comply with their terms and conditions of employment and VisitScotland policies and procedures.

Staff should ensure they understand the implications of the VisitScotland Policy on the Receipt & Provision of Gifts, Hospitality & Hosting in order to ensure compliance with the Antibribery and Corruption policy.

8. Bribing officials

VisitScotland primarily engages with UK officials. However, there are also occasions when we meet representatives from foreign governments in the line of business in the UK and abroad. VisitScotland will not tolerate bribery to produce a favourable outcome.

VisitScotland policies and controls do not permit the bestowal of lavish hospitality or expensive gifts. However, modest, proportionate and appropriate activities and token memorial souvenir gifts in keeping with the nature of the visit may occasionally be offered to organisations and their officials.

Corruption of a Public Official is a serious offence under section 6 of the Bribery Act 2010 and carries particular reputational and legal risks.

This is covered in more detail by the VisitScotland Policy on the Receipt & Provision of Gifts, Hospitality & Hosting.

9. Avenues for reporting fraud

VisitScotland has clear avenues for reporting suspicions of fraud (or bribery).

Details on how to report suspicions of Fraud is covered in the Fraud Policy and Plan.

10. Reporting outcomes

VisitScotland will not hesitate to report or escalate to an appropriate higher authority any actual or potential bribery issues. Where actual bribery has taken place, this is a criminal offence and will be reported to the police.

All suspicions, allegations of bribery received from whomsoever will be thoroughly investigated and may result in appropriate disciplinary or police reporting action where substantiated.

Any remedial action will be agreed, documented and tracked between the Chief Executive and senior management.

11. Training and awareness

Audit and Compliance will communicate the requirements of this policy to all employees each time the policy is refreshed.

Suitable Training and re-fresher will be provided to all employees, as required, to accompany and supplement this communication.

As an employee of VisitScotland your attention is drawn to the fact that complicity with or willful blindness to bribery or corruption is a criminal offence.

12. Compliance monitoring

The Audit & Risk Committee will consider the suitability and effectiveness of this policy. In addition, the Director of Corporate Services (or alternate) will ensure that adequate Procedures are in place to monitor the implementation of, and ongoing compliance with, this Policy.

These will include the regular monitoring, review and reporting to the Audit & Risk Committee of the provision of, or receipt of, such gifts, hospitality, etc, in accordance with the aforementioned policies.

An annual summary report will be provided to a meeting of the Audit & Risk Committee.

13. Record-keeping

The Director of Corporate Services (or alternate) will maintain a central register of all reports made under this policy to include a record of the investigation and the outcome of those investigations.

All records relating to the monitoring of compliance and the register of incidents will be retained for at least seven years from the date of testing/recording.

14. Relationship to other VisitScotland policies

In addition, this over-riding policy embraces the following separate policies, as detailed, namely:

  • fraud policy and plan
  • board members’ code of conduct
  • gifts, hospitality & hosting policy
  • travel & subsistence guidelines
  • whistle blowing Policy
  • disciplinary policy
  • criminal finance policy

15. Monitoring and review

This policy will be reviewed every three years and submitted to the Audit & Risk Committee for review and the VisitScotland Board for approval.

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