Corporate Gifting or Bribery

Firstly, it is not illegal to give someone a gift, otherwise at Christmas or Birthdays we would all be locked up!

However, the Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities Act (PRECCA) clearly outlines that your gift is used to influence another to manipulate the outcome in your favour, then you are in trouble. Today, most corporates have their own policies that govern in more detail what they are and are not allowed to receive from outsiders and how these are to be treated and declared.  As such, corporate gifting becomes a fairly risky business and we all need to be careful not to fall from grace just because we are trying to be “nice`”.


gift is something of value given without the expectation of return; a bribe is the same thing given in the hope of influence or benefit. … Gifts and bribes can be actual items, or they can be tickets to a sporting event, travel, rounds of golf, or restaurant meals.

Here are some basic guidelines when considering giving Corporate Gifts:

  1. Ask for the companies gifting policy and ensure you are not going to be non-compliant.
  2. A gift is usually deemed fine if given after the work is done as a sign of appreciation.
  3. Never give a gift if it is in any way conditional upon a favourable decision to be made in your favour.
  4. Avoid expensive or over the top gifts, even if you are aware that your competitors are doing such. A rule of thumb is R 400.
  5. Most employees have to declare a gift so be very aware of this so as not to embarrass the employee.
  6. If in doubt, ask the companies Procurement Department to clarify the rules of gifting.

If you have the go ahead to gift, then try to follow these basic guidelines:

  1. Present your gift professionally, personalise the note of appreciation, spell the name correctly, and if possible deliver personally.
  2. Try to be innovative or at least research what is current in the market.
  3. Research the clients’ needs and try to find a “useful” gift that is useable or memorable. Although a fruit basket is popular, once eaten, who will remember you?
  4. Try to link a gift to the clients current strategy or business theme. For example, if you know they are going for a big growth for sales in say Asia, then a book that helps with Asian culture or language would be cool.
  5. Ensure your gift is Branded.

Another area of gifting is when supplying staff with gifts at a conference. This can also become a problem area if abused. If the gift is deemed excessive, it will need to be declared and can be taxed. Don’t embarrass your staff by making them potential tax evaders!

Again, a gift in such circumstances is either a show of appreciation or you are trying to motivate or provide staff with a tool to help them do their job. In general, make sure the gift is explained and not just given without any such clarity. Try to personalise this,  and where feasible, hand out personally rather than just hand out or dump in their hotel room with a general note attached.

Good luck and when in doubt, rather scrap the gift idea and take the time to show personal appreciation!

John Ingram

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