Hong Kong SAR – Master your ABC: SFC Highlights the Importance of Anti-Bribery Compliance

The Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) has published a circular to intermediaries reminding them of their existing obligations to put in place robust internal control systems to prevent contravention of the Prevention of Bribery Ordinance (Cap. 201) (POBO) when conducting regulated activities. In an accompanying appendix to the circular, the SFC set out the relevant provisions of the POBO, in particular section 8 on bribery of public servants by persons having dealings with public bodies and section 9 on corrupt transactions with agents (where an agent solicits or accepts any advantage as an inducement to or reward for some act in relation to his principal’s affairs or business).

The SFC reminds intermediaries of their obligations regarding complying with POBO under the following rules:

  • Paragraph 12.1 (Compliance: In general) of the Code of Conduct, which requires intermediaries to comply with, and implement appropriate measures to ensure compliance with, the law, rules, regulations and codes administered or issued by the SFC and the requirements of any regulatory authority which apply to the intermediary;
  • Paragraph 2.4 (Anti-bribery guidelines) of the Code of Conduct, under which intermediaries should be familiar with the POBO and follow related guidance issued by the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC); and 
  • Part V of the Internal Control Guidelines, which requires intermediaries to establish and maintain policies and procedures to ensure compliance with all applicable legal and regulatory requirements as well as with their own internal policies and procedures. 

Actions to take

Intermediaries need to ensure that they have anti-bribery policies and codes of conduct with essential probity requirements for all staff including senior management. The circular refers to an ICAC sample code of conduct for the private sector as providing helpful guidance in this area.

The SFC expect that anti-bribery policies adopt the statutory definition of “advantages” under section 2(1) of the POBO.

In addition to having policies in place, there should be training carried out for all levels of staff as an integral part of ensuring understanding and compliance with the requirements.