BExA’s seminar on managing corruption risk: top takeaways

As the 10th anniversary of the UK’s Bribery Act approaches, and with Brexit challenging UK exporters to look beyond the EU for new markets, BExA recently organised a seminar on how UK exporters can manage corruption risk in developing countries. The event took place on 19 November at Quadrant Chambers in London, and was hosted in association with IBLF Global.

The session began with an overview of the legal landscape by Mark Norris, Partner at Sullivan and BExA joint Deputy Chairman and Head of the Legal and Compliance sub-Committee, who delivered a presentation titled ‘The legislative background: The impact of the UK Bribery Act and how to ensure compliance’. This was followed by a panel discussion on ‘Enforcing the law, changing the culture’, led by Brook Horowitz, CEO of IBLF Global, and joined by Lewis Barnes, Industry Liaison Officer at the National Crime Agency; Geoff de Mowbray, BExA Chairman and CEO of Dints International; and Mark Norris.

In setting the scene for the discussion, Norris explained that earlier this year, a Select Committee – appointed by the House of Lords – had provided post-legislative scrutiny on the Bribery Act 2010.

One of the issues that the Select Committee had highlighted in its report was the need for more training for British companies, particularly SMEs, on the complexities of the Act – which drove BExA’s decision to run the seminar. “Compliance with the UK’s Bribery Act touches our members and is something that they were very keen to know more about,” Norris said.

In this post-event wrap-up, we bring together some of the main takeaways and key insights.

  1. The UK’s anti-bribery legislation is amongst the ‘toughest in the world’

“The act is quite straightforward, it’s a very relatively short piece of legislation,” said Norris. “But it’s also probably the toughest anti-bribery legislation in the world.”

He highlighted that, for one, the Act has introduced a new strict liability offence for companies failing to prevent bribery. “This new corporate criminal offence places a burden of proof on companies to show that they have adequate procedures for the prevention of bribery.” Companies face criminal prosecution if they fail to prevent bribery but can defend charges if they prove they had “adequate procedures” in place.

Norris cited the controversial example of a 2018 “failure to prevent” case, the first since the UK Bribery Act came into force, which saw British refurbishment company Skansen Interiors charged with failure to prevent bribery – despite reporting the illegal conduct to UK police.

He also outlined the Act’s other offenses (those related to bribing another person, being bribed, and the bribery of foreign officials); provided an overview of what constitutes bribery (particularly in the context of facilitation payments – the payment of a small amount to a government official to secure or expedite a routine governmental action – and hospitality and promotional expenditure); and outlined the six principles for the prevention of bribery, as issued by the Ministry of Justice (namely proportionate procedures, top-level commitment, risk assessment, due diligence, communication and training, and monitoring and review).

He noted that although guidance from the likes of the Ministry of Justice existed, it cannot be considered as law, or followed as such, which made navigation of the Act complex, and appropriate training essential.

“We’ve definitely set the bar high as the UK, which does give us a huge opportunity to differentiate ourselves,” said de Mowbray. “But it won’t be easy and it won’t be fast.”

  1. Nevertheless, companies should not be discouraged from engaging in overseas business

“We want British companies to get out there and sell more. It is not British companies’ responsibility to end global corruption,” said a representative from the Department for International Development (DFID), seated in the audience, in response to suggestions from other guests that the Act could indeed have an adverse impact on the number of companies that choose to export.

For its part, DFID leads the cross-government Business Integrity Initiative, established in 2018, which provides practical guidance to micro, small and medium-sized enterprises on issues such as bribery and human rights concerns to help businesses trade with and invest in new markets.

The DFID representative explained that the Department had recently launched a new fund to support Collective Action Initiatives, which aim to reduce corruption and promote human rights to improve the investment climate in emerging markets.

Nonetheless, the response to the details of the Act from many seminar attendees was that it would be British companies themselves – and not government – that would be left holding the baby. “How can companies possibly compete when the cost of compliance is being driven up?” asked an audience member.

Norris suggested that there needs to be a benefit for businesses that do comply with the strict letter of the law, which could come in the form of enhanced governmental support to win overseas contracts, such as an increase in access to finance from UK Export Finance.

Another audience member suggested that UKEF could be taking a firmer stand by limiting its cover to countries where it believes that business can only be won legitimately.

“I’ve been in meetings with UKEF where they’ve warned people ‘this is a difficult market’, but then when you go on the UKEF website, you’ll see that they’ve got oodles of cover for some of these places. Could DIT and UKEF not just be looking at credit assessments of a country, but actually saying if you want to do business in the public sector in that country, it’s not deemed open enough for us to issue cover there. It seems a simple thing for the government to do – there are undoubtedly many markets that fall into that box,” he suggested.

Concluding the session, Horowitz of IBLF Global noted that a “large and complex culture change needs to happen at all level of business – from British multinationals investing in the emerging and developing markets to their local distributors, agents, joint venture partners that are part of their value chains.” “It’s not just about a piece of legislation or the occasional prosecution in the UK – that’s not going to change the game”, he said. “It’s market forces combined with clear management and incentives – that’s what will shift the goal posts: British companies should be playing in forward position.”


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New member benefit | BExA unveils international trade support helpline

BExA has launched a dedicated helpline for members that are seeking specialist advice on international trade matters.

This support service is now accessible via email, and all questions will be acknowledged, and  where possible, answered within 24 hours. It is available free of charge to BExA members.

The information available through the helpline will meet the requirements of SME and large organisations and covers a number of areas including:

  • Export and import documentation
  • Export control regulations
  • Customs regulations
  • Methods of payment
  • Contractual issues
  • Transportation and logistics
  • Intra-EU trade

Commenting on the launch of the helpline, BExA Co-Chair Geoffrey de Mowbray says: “While Brexit rumbles on and the politics work themselves out, there seems to be more energy and excitement around doing business internationally. It is BExA’s hope that through this helpline members will be able to arm themselves with certainty and clarity on business matters within their control so that they may take advantage of the many opportunities in front of us right now.”


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BExA celebrates 2019 award winners

BExA unveiled the winners of its Young Exporter, Young Export Financier and Lifetime Achievement Awards at its Annual Lunch at Mansion House in London on October 8.

BExA’s awards recognise those who have played a key role and made a real difference to UK exporting over the course of the last year. The winners of each of the categories were chosen by three separate judging panels comprised of BExA Council Members and industry professionals, and were selected from a number of nominations that were sent in by UK companies across the country.

In a speech given at the lunch, Louis Taylor, Chief Executive of UK Export Finance (UKEF) praised the efforts of the UK’s exporting community. “Exporting is the fuel in the engine of the UK economy. Exporters like you all here will be key to our future success in cracking new markets, deepening existing trade links and making the UK an exporting superpower following our exit from the European Union.”

Taylor thanked the exporters present at the lunch, and the companies they represent, for the resilience, perseverance and fortitude that they constantly exhibit by “keeping calm and carrying on exporting”. “Of course there are serious issues facing the economy, and indeed the global economy. But the performance of our exporters throughout this recent period has been strong,” he said.

These recent “serious issues” were addressed by BExA President, the Rt Hon. Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean, who, in her speech at the lunch, called for an end to the current environment of uncertainty, which she said has become a “real problem” facing exporters across all sectors. “Let us hope that whatever the outcome in the next few weeks – hard Brexit, soft Brexit, no Brexit at all – it is resolved soon,” she said. “We are a resilient and a resourceful nation, full of resilient and resourceful business men, women and exporters. I trust that in the next few weeks, we can get back to what our country has been outstandingly good at for so long – trade, export and wealth creation. And BExA is here to support you.”

A career dedicated to exporting

BExA’s Lifetime Achievement Award – introduced this year for the first time – seeks to honour a person who has provided exceptional service to the UK exporting community, who has helped to inspire and develop others to achieve international success, and who has been a role model to their peers.
This award was established to mark the centenary of UKEF, which was created by the UK government in 1919 to revitalise British exports following the First World War.

The winner of the inaugural BExA Lifetime Achievement Award is Carl Hunter, the CEO of Coltraco Ultrasonics, a high-exporting manufacturer in the shipping, offshore oil and gas, renewables, naval, power and safety engineering sectors.
UKEF’s Taylor, who presented the award at the BExA lunch, explained how Hunter – who was also awarded an OBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list earlier this year – has led his company to great success over the past few years.

“Coltraco exports an impressive 89% of its output to 117 countries around the world – 40% to Asia, 10% to the Middle East, 17% to the US and 15% to the EU. Nearly 17% of the world’s merchant fleet – that’s over 10,000 ships – and most leading navies, including our own Royal Navy, use Coltraco’s systems and products, along with over half the world’s offshore energy producers,” said Taylor.
Under Hunter’s leadership, Coltraco has also won the Queen’s Award for International Trade, recognising six continuous years of growth, and was named as one of the top 100 Best of British Innovators by Innovate UK.

“Yet Carl’s contribution goes far beyond the success of his own business – he has also become one of the Department for International Trade’s Export Champions and dedicated significant time and resources to facilitating dialogue between the government and SMEs,” Taylor said.

Moreover, he has supported four UK-USA SME dialogues, was appointed the 37th Commonwealth Business Mentor, and supports the UK diplomatic community to help increase bilateral trade as well as seven think tanks, including the Adam Smith Institute, the Centre for Social Justice and the Institute for International and Strategic Studies.

“Carl’s tireless efforts speaking at conferences, supporting think tanks and engaging stakeholders over many years is the reason why we are giving him this award for lifetime contribution to exports,” said Taylor.

Commemorating the efforts of the industry’s youth

The GTR-BExA Young Exporter Award, now in its 15th year, was awarded to Clare Hunter from Coltraco Ultrasonics (Carl Hunter’s daughter). Hunter leads Coltraco’s marketing and communications strategy and coordinates its global network. She has been working for Coltraco for eight years and has participated in helping it achieve a double in turnover in six years. “Clare is driven to push forward Coltraco’s global presence and exporting,” reads her nomination form.
Presenting Hunter with her award at the lunch, BExA co-Chair Geoffrey de Mowbray noted that the panel of judges had been impressed with the hard work that she has undertaken to drive forward Coltraco’s global presence and export strategy. “With her vast knowledge, enthusiasm and commitment to developing Coltraco’s export business, it’s evident that her role goes far beyond her marketing and communications title. She is a terrific all-rounder with a true passion for export,” he said.

The winner of the GTR-BExA Young Export Financier award – new in 2019 – is Sapna Sapra from Deutsche Bank. Sapra joined Deutsche’s Structured Trade & Export Finance (STEF) team in 2013, was promoted to vice-president in early 2018, and is responsible for the origination, structuring and execution of export finance transactions backed by UKEF and other ECAs. “Sapna is one of the brightest young talents in the industry and this award would recognise her contribution to the market,” reads her nomination form.
“Sapna’s technical capabilities and knowledge of export finance are second to none,” said de Mowbray, who also remarked on the fact that she has worked with many export credit agencies across a wide geographic and product coverage. “Sapna shows great compassion for export finance, which is also evidenced in her role as a founding member of the Future of Export Finance (FEX) initiative,” he added.
Both of these awards were open to candidates aged 35 or under, and employed in the export or export finance department of a manufacturing, trading or financial services company registered in the UK.

Congratulations to all of the winners!


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BExA launches 10th Annual Benchmarking of UK Export Finance

BExA today launches the 10th Annual Benchmarking of UK Export Finance entitled ‘100 years underwriting exports’.

Read the press release.
Download a copy.

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UK Export Finance marks centenary with best results for 28 years.

BExA congratulates UK Export Finance (UKEF) on an impressive set of results to mark their centenary. Whilst the value of support has significantly increased from the previous year, due in the main to the Qatar transaction, the increase in the number of facilities written and companies supported demonstrates a continued growth in the use of UKEF products.

We will work closely with UKEF to realise their 2019-2020 objectives with particular focus on the competitive offering objective and on raising UKEF awareness.

UKEF continues to be a real asset for UK exporters and is something to be proud of. BExA is pleased to see our recommendations coming to fruition and we look forward to continuing our work in helping UKEF further improve their products and services as they start in their second century of operations.

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BExA responds to UK Export Finance Consultation on Foreign Content Policy

UK Export Finance (UKEF), the UK’s export credit agency,  has called for views on proposed changes to its Foreign Content Policy, which are designed to recognise the full contribution of the UK supply chain in the transactions UKEF supports.  The proposed changes will enable UKEF to provide the most appropriate support for UK exporters and suppliers, ensuring that the UK remains competitive and enabling global buyers to purchase more easily from the UK.   A copy of BExA’s response to the consultation can be downloaded here.

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New Website Launches to Help UK Businesses Crack Export Conundrum

An Essex-based entrepreneur and member of the British Exporters Association (BExA) has launched a website aimed at helping UK businesses of all sizes to export with clarity and confidence – secure in the knowledge they have ticked the boxes that should put them in pole position for success.

The Export Hub is the brainchild of Andy Moylan, a businessman and multi-award-winning entrepreneur with 25 years’ experience working with companies in the UK with an appetite for overseas growth. Moylan has assembled a team of people with decades of complementary experience to contribute to the website. All bases have been covered – export funding, marketing and sales, debtor protection, distribution, business development, credit management and more. The site will feature fresh content each week from key people of influence; each one sharing their tips on exporting. This includes the Managing Directors of UK and international businesses sharing their export journey in a series of candid interviews.

Speaking about the launch of The Export Hub, Moylan said: “This project has been 12 months in the making. I wanted The Export Hub to be fresh and different to anything currently available, with the emphasis on providing practical information and tips with access to further services if required. Access to The Hub had to be simple and unambiguous so there’s no charge for accessing the site, no requirement to provide email address details and no fees. A person can visit The Export Hub as often as they want. Every week they’ll discover new articles, new tips and new interviews, contributed by people passionate about exporting and incredibly knowledgeable in their field. This includes fellow BExA members who want to share their knowledge to benefit other businesses.”

Regular contributors to the site include the international bestselling business author and CIM Fellow Dee Blick, global insurer Atradius, global export compliance brand SGS and The British Franchise Association. Entrepreneurs from overseas will share the dos and don’ts of exporting to their country, starting with South Korea in what makes for a truly fascinating article, alongside the founder of the global success story K-Seal and the Netherlands-based brand JLM Lubricants – another success story with exports in over 40 countries and rising.

“Companies can also access our unique Export De-Risk Model at no charge and actually work with us, again at no charge, to determine how their export score can increase to a level that would attract funding and significantly reduce risk,” said Moylan.

“It’s estimated that 90% of future growth will be transacted with emerging and challenging markets. UK exporters must ensure they are best placed to take advantage of this growth. There has never been a better time to export, especially in the post-Brexit era where the favourable exchange rates are stimulating overseas demand. Our goal is that The Export Hub will help companies realise their exporting ambitions and I am excited to see how we can work with BExA and fellow  members to achieve this,” concluded Moylan.


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Nominations open for the BExA Lifetime Achievement Award

BExA is calling for nominations to its Lifetime Achievement Award, which seeks to honour and recognise individuals who have made significant contributions to UK exports and the export community over the course of their career.

“The successful candidate will have provided exceptional, excellent and meritorious service to UK exporting,” says BExA Co-Chair Geoffrey de Mowbray. “We urge companies from across the UK to get involved and nominate those exporters – past and present – who have made a real difference.”

The award has been introduced to mark the centenary of UK Export Finance (UKEF), the UK’s export credit agency, which was established by the UK government in 1919 to revitalise British exports following the First World War.

Rt Hon. Dr Liam Fox MP, Secretary of State for International Trade and President of the Board of Trade, says:  “The BExA Lifetime Achievement Award recognises the vital role UK exporters play in growing the economy, fuelling prosperity, growth, and employment all over the UK. I am proud that UK Export Finance is supporting this award, marking its 100th anniversary and the UK’s continued global success.”

Nominations are now open and close on 2 September 2019.  Download the nomination form here.


  • Nominees must be, or have been, employed in the export department of a manufacturing or trading company registered in the UK.
  • Nominees should be in the latter part of their career (either active or retired this year).
  • Nominees need not be BExA members.
  • The winner is to be selected by a BExA-UKEF judging panel taking account of a written submission.
  • The award will be presented to the winner at the BExA Annual Lunch being held at the Mansion House on 8 October.
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BExA members appointed to Strategic Trade Advisory Group

BExA members Sean Ramsden – CEO of Ramsden International, and Mark Abrams – Head of Trade Finance at Trade Finance Global, have been appointed as representatives on the Strategic Trade Advisory Group (STAG) which was established by UK Government earlier this month. The principal purpose of STAG is for the government to engage with stakeholders, helping to shape future trade policy and realise opportunities across all nations and regions of the UK through high level strategic discussion. The group is chaired by George Hollingbery, Minister for Trade Policy at the Department for International Trade (DIT).

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4 BExA Members Scoop Wins at the TFG International Trade Finance Awards

BExA is delighted to announce that 4 of its members have been recognised and commended for their contribution to the trade sector at the 2019 International Trade Finance Awards by Trade Finance Global.

BExA Member Awardees include:

● Best Trade Financier – Commerzbank AG
● Best Invoice Financier – Bibby Financial Services
● Best Business Finance Provider in Europe – Citi
● Best Trade Finance Law Firm – Sullivan & Worcester

Given the challenging geopolitical and macroeconomic landscape, award winners were commended for their progress in supporting trade, embracing innovation and automation, as well as helping to navigate the complex macroeconomic landscape.

Studies consistently show large global market gaps for trade finance in the range of USD1.6 trillion per year, with SMEs and developing economies most adversely impacted.

According to TFG, the three major themes in the last year were: supporting fintechs and platforms to help drive efficiencies in forfaiting and trade finance, standardisation and cooperation between banks, and navigating the complex geopolitical landscape to continue supporting businesses.

BExA members comment on their wins:

Enno-Burghard Weitzel, Managing Director/Global Head of Product Management Trade at Commerzbank AG and winner of ‘Best Trade Financier’ says: “To make trade finance a more efficient business, we must look to decrease the time, and indeed the costs, involved in this process. It isn’t only about efficiency, however; transparency across the transaction chain can also improve thanks to digitalisation. A clear challenge in this respect is the lack of standardisation.”

Paul Fraser, Sales Director – Specialist Products at Bibby Financial Services says: “We’re absolutely delighted to be awarded as Best Invoice Financier Award at the International Trade Finance Awards. As a global business supporting more than 10,000 businesses worldwide, this award is a testament to the hard work and commitment of our teams across the world, and our expertise in supporting SMEs trading internationally.”

Geoffrey Wynne, Partner at Sullivan & Worcester’s London office, and winner of ‘Best Trade Finance Law Firm’, says: “Even with political turmoil and other risks there will still be trade finance transactions. Many will go back to old structures and will need good legal expertise and knowledge to deliver those transactions. Sullivan & Worcester is well placed to do this as it is a specialised firm with quality lawyers.”

BExA’s co-chairs Marcus Dolman and Geoff de Mowbray congratulate the winners on their achievements and significant contributions to UK trade.

For more information on the Awards and interviews with the winners, please visit

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