Richard Bistrong on the Line Between Gift Giving and Bribery [Podcast]


By Adam Turteltaub

The holidays are here, and with them come good tidings of comfort and joy, and increased corruption risk. Holiday gifts, both given and received, can lead to serious compliance challenges.

In this podcast Richard Bistrong of Front-Line Anti-Bribery warns that 2022 may be particularly difficult. For many this will be the first time in several years that they have had the opportunity to connect face to face with customers and vendors. There may be a desire to catch up for lost time, and the rules of the road for giving may have been forgotten. Some may even be tempted to dip into their own pocket to keep the gift off the books.

Making things difficult is that it’s difficult to find a rule of thumb for gift giving that reflects all the various nuances from culture to culture around the globe. However, employees can learn to look to the code of conduct, reach out to managers and contact compliance to ensure that they are staying between the guardrails.

It’s important that workers know that the rules apply to gifts given to government officials and also to employees at other companies. Commercial bribery is a real risk, and a gift that may be perceived as creating an obligation of some sort is not appropriate.

Even charitable giving may be problematic. Although a part and parcel of the regular giving of many industries, it’s important to ensure that the funds are being used appropriately and that the charity is not tied closely with a government official.

In general, organizations need to embrace reasonable and transparent gift giving. To that end, a gift registry can be extremely helpful, tracking both what is given and received, as well as any gift giving plans.

Finally, don’t forget to train employees on what gifts they can accept, and to warn them that it’s easy, as Richard learned, for a seemingly innocent gift to lead them down a dangerous path.