Would you consider this to be a bribe?

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The Wimbledon tennis championships are taking place this week and as well as the diehard tennis fans that have been lucky enough to get tickets there will be a number of corporate entertainment packages present.

Corporate entertaining is big business and typically involves companies inviting key contacts such as important clients to major sporting events where they are provided with excellent seats as well as wined and dined with some of the best food and drink available.

The argument behind this expense is that it helps maintain and build relationships.

The UK Bribery Act has just come into force and raises the question as to whether corporate entertaining could possibly fall under these new bribery provisions.

The Ministry of Justice defines bribery as “giving someone a financial or other advantage to encourage that person to perform their functions or activities improperly”.

Does this mean therefore that free tickets to events such as Wimbledon could result in charges of bribery taking place and the people involved being liable to an unlimited fine or a jail sentence of up to 10 years?

Any of you at Wimbledon at the moment courtesy of corporate tickets can probably relax though as it all appears to be down to a matter of proportionality.

A recent announcement by Brent McDaniel, the UK head of Anti-bribery & Corruption at KPMG, said that “for those enjoying corporate hospitality this week, proportionality sits at the heart of this legislation. The SFO (Serious Fraud Office) are likely to have little interest in prosecuting over a bottle of wine or a day at the races. The mandate is to stamp out grand scale corruption in high risk countries, but evidence of companies undertaking thorough risk assessments and training is vital to evade prosecution.”

This all sounds ok then for anyone who is the lucky recipient of corporate entertaining.

It is worth noting as a conclusion though that if the company you work for is thinking of spending a lot of money on a high quality corporate entertaining programme at major sporting events around the world then please do bear in mind that I am personally available to attend these events, even at short notice.

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