Frequently Asked Questions
1. Question: the new Group policy doesn’t allow me to entertain my clients properly. This is harmful to my business as my competitors don’t have these monetary limits. This is unfair – what can I do ?
Answer: The new policy (section 5.1 General principles, paragraph 1 and 3) states the following (relevant wording highlighted):
Reasonable and bona fide hospitality and promotional or other business expenditures, which seek to maintain cordial relations or present products or services, are recognized as a legitimate part of doing business. However, gifts, hospitality or other similar business expenditures can potentially be employed as bribes. The giving and receiving of reasonable gifts, entertainment or hospitality is permissible provided it is connected with RTL Group’s business.
Employees may only give or accept advantages connected directly or indirectly to their work for an RTL Group company if all of the following conditions are met:
– The advantage serves a legitimate business purpose.
– The advantage does not serve to obtain or provide an improper advantage.
– The advantage does not have an unreasonably high value, does not exceed the limits of customary business practice, and does not disproportionately exceed the recipient’s normal standard of living
There are a number of materiality thresholds which are then set out in the policy to aid employees’ judge whether they can or can't accept gifts, entertainment or hospitality.
If the gift is valued at more than EUR 300, the respective supervisor’s approval is required, as well as coordination with the RTL’ Group Compliance team. For hospitality valued at more than EUR 300, the respective supervisor’s approval is required. To summarise, in no instances are we saying hospitality cannot be done - just that it needs to be assessed whether it is reasonable (in light of normal business practice, custom, standard of living) and that it serves a legitimate business purpose. Standards are much higher if public officials are involved, but this is not covered here.
The updated anti-corruption policy does not aim to stamp out company trips or events, merely to create a framework where it can be judged as to whether it is reasonable, or not, and to introduce a reporting register to “prove” the steps taken.
2. Question: we hold regular talks with public officials such as media authorities, members of local government and others about regulation and licensing. Quite often such talks are done while having a lunch or a dinner – mostly at low cost and never exceeding the normal cost range of daily business. Are these meetings now allowed and if so, do we need prior approval?
Answer: According to Section 6 of the RTL Group Anti-Corruption Policy, “all gifts, entertainment and hospitality relating to Public Officials, regardless of value, must be approved, by the respective supervisor”. There is a carve-out for “minor token items” (as long as permitted by law, custom and courtesy) and further language indicating that entertainment and hospitality within the scope of the general principles outlined in Subsection 5.1 of the Policy is permissible for Public Officials, as long as certain requirements are met – including the requirement to seek approval by the respective supervisor.
As these meetings are held at “low cost” the limited hospitality carve-out is applicable here and hence these meetings can continue.
In response to the second question on approval: There is no requirement of prior written approval by the respective supervisor – if something has to exceed the “minor token items” threshold (e.g. the Public Official suggesting a more expensive place for a business dinner, ordering expensive wine at dinner, etc.), it requires approval by the respective supervisor. If employees have any doubts, they should request advice from the local Compliance Officer or the RTL Group Compliance Team.
The Policy is there to set a clear frame – it is not there to stop the necessary contacts that go on, thereby affecting business life.