The lavish dinners, fast cars, swish holidays and cash bungs catalogued in the recent Sainsbury’s bribery case are far more common than you think, according to a new survey on bribery commissioned by The Grocer.
As ex-Sainsbury’s potato buyer John Maylam and two former senior executives of potato giant Greenvale were jailed last month, almost half (47%) the senior executives polled in a survey for The Grocer said they had known a salesperson to offer a bribe to a retail or wholesale buyer. And almost two-fifths (39.4%) said they had known a buyer to ask for one.
And although, following the introduction of the Bribery Act last July, 47.7% said it was less frequent, and 1.5% said it had been stamped out altogether, over a quarter of respondents (25.8%) said bribery was now more frequent than ever. And over 60% claimed it was either ‘still easy’ (12.5%), or still possible (51.6%) to find a way offer personal incentives to buyers, with 25% claiming it was a lot harder and only 10.9% believing it to be impossible now.
The most common form of bribe was cold hard cash: it accounted for 40.3% of all bribes. Other arrangements detailed a percentage cut of any sales agreed.
Also popular were holidays (25%) and all-expenses paid ‘fact-finding’ missions. And the list of potential bribes, perks and personal incentives included cars, electrical goods, fine wine, golf equipment and even lap-dancing and prostitutes.
Buyers also requested free stock for personal use, computers, lavish gifts for their families, flights on Concorde, golf trips, property abroad and, in one case, a job with the supplier in question, according to respondents.
Sainsbury’s refused to discuss actions taken in response to the bribery case beyond stating: “We demand the highest standards of all our colleagues and suppliers, and Sainsbury’s code of conduct clearly details how we expect them to behave, reinforced by our confidential whistle blowing line.” Its code of conduct was “confidential”, it added.
But a number of major multiples have confirmed they have worked hard to stamp out bribery and corruption. “Since 2009 we have made sure every Asda colleague is briefed on our statement of ethics and it’s our expectation that it becomes an integral part of their day job,” said an Asda spokeswoman.
A Tesco spokesman said: “We have a comprehensive programme in place to ensure staff receive anti-bribery guidance and take part in training, complemented by a gifts and entertainments policy.”