Curbing corruption

New anti-bribery laws are set to shake-up Oman's construction industry

Jamie Kellick.
Jamie Kellick.

 

Oman is to shortly bring in tougher powers to clamp down on bribery and corruption after it signed up to the UN Convention against Corruption, delegates at Construction Week’s Leaders in Construction Oman conference were warned.

The Sultanate has seen a number of high-profile corruption trials in recent years – including one which saw the founder of the country’s biggest publicly-listed construction company, Galfar, sentenced to three years in jail – a decision which he has appealed.

Jamie Kellick of international law firm Curtis, Mallet-Prevost, Colt & Mosle, said a major effect of the new legislation will be to make bribery and corruption in the workplace a corporate offence. Under existing legislation, it is only a personal offence.

Kellick said that for firms to minimise the risk of falling foul of the new laws, they need to comply with the following categories: proportionate procedures; top-level commitment; risk assessment; due diligence; communication and training; monitoring and review; and reporting.

  

“It must be led from the management. The recent corruption cases of last year and this year, it’s all very well if a company turns around and says ‘we had a rogue officer… it’s got nothing to do with the company, it’s just a very unfortunate incident that he’s run off with a whole load of money’,” said Kellick.

“Now that Oman has signed up to the UN Convention, one thing that I can be very sure of is that the legislation is going to change. It’s going to become as it is in the States and Europe; it’s going to become a corporate offence. So there is going to be no excuse for companies for not at least attempting to have some procedures in place.”

Kellick said firms should ensure their contracts with subcontractors, suppliers and third parties contain a ‘right to audit’ clause.

“This is a big issue because it gives you that ability to undertake that due diligence on the suppliers that you have,” he said. “If a supplier turns around and takes massive umbrage that you have asked for the right to audit then they’re not the supplier for you.

“You want to have that trickle down effect,” he added. “You want to see in their contract that they have the right to audit the subcontractor below them.”

Kellick said firms cannot afford to take a cursory approach. “Not only do you have to put in the procedures and practices, you actually have to enforce them through training and actually informing your employees and your suppliers and your third parties that this is now the norm and not the exception,” he said.

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