What is the function of designated vendors and pre-approved promotional items?
Other tools that companies can employ in the area of gifts to avoid overburdening employees with approval requirements are designated vendors and pre-approved promotional products. These can reduce the need for specific approvals and establish a safe harbor for employees to engage in the necessary and expected exchange of business courtesies in China.
Having a designated vendor for certain frequently purchased gifts can help streamline approvals. For example, for every Moon Festival, the company could purchase mooncakes from the same bakery. This would facilitate gift recordation, as the company can more easily track the purchases made from a single vendor. It will also reduce the possibility that employees might purchase more valuable mooncakes from a different vendor, which could heighten the corruption risk. If all employees are told that mooncakes are to be bought from the same vendor every Moon Festival, the organization can retain more control over the types of gifts that are being given by its employees.
Similarly, a company should consider keeping in stock low-value promotional items to be given as gifts. As discussed above, one affirmative defense to the anti-bribery provisions of the FCPA is that the thing of value is promotional.
Any stock gift, therefore, that is branded with the company's name or logo may be within the reach of the affirmative defense. To facilitate compliance with this element of the anti-corruption program, a company should have on-site promotional items such as mouse pads, mugs, key chains, pens, notepads, and other low-value items that are branded or printed with the company's name. When an employee needs to give a gift to a Chinese official, the employee can draw from the stock of promotional items. Again, this simple practice makes adhering to the compliance program easier for the employees.