Companies taking risks with anti-corruption laws

by Criminal Defence Blawg on December 12, 2012

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Guest post regarding The Bribery Act 2010 and potential criminal offences in the UK.

UK businesses are still taking risks with the UK Bribery Act in the pressure to win business and the belief that regulators will hold back from prosecutions, says business advisory firm FTI Consulting, Inc.

The Bribery Act 2010

The Bribery Act, which came into force in July 2011, introduced a corporate offence of failure to prevent bribery by persons working on behalf of a business, and makes it a criminal offence to give, promise or offer a bribe and to request, agree to receive or accept a bribe either at home or abroad.

The Act also covers bribery of a foreign public official, and has increased the maximum penalty for bribery from seven to ten years imprisonment, with an unlimited fine.

Compliance research

The Act has now been in force for over a year, and business advisory firm FTI Consulting surveyed 571 board-level and senior and middle management respondents in UK companies earlier this year, in order to assess how companies had responded. It found that:

  • 40% of UK businesses surveyed think the current economic climate is encouraging risk taking around compliance with the UK Bribery Act;
  • 27% do not believe the government will encourage regulators to pursue prosecutions in the current economic environment;
  • 21% believe they will not be prosecuted for a breach of the Bribery Act;
  • 31% believe the act exists mainly for appearance’s sake and ethical guidelines; and
  • 25% of board-level respondents confess that they might breach the Bribery Act in order to win business.

Likely long-term effect

While many businesses admit to cutting corners in creating the right processes and protocols to comply with the Bribery Act, there does seem to be overwhelming support for the long-term eradication of corporate corruption, says FTI Consulting.

In fact, two thirds (63%) of respondents to the survey thought that the UK Bribery Act would eventually have a positive effect on prospects for UK business.

Implications for compliance

According to Julian Glass, Managing Director in the Forensic and Litigation Consulting practice at FTI Consulting, the absence of a major prosecution, and the increasing need for UK companies to grow business in emerging markets, means that there are a significant number of business leaders and managers prioritising winning business over fully complying with the Act, in the belief they will be safe from prosecution.

“This research highlights the need for organisations to continue to work on both top-down cultural change and implementation of substantive compliance programme measures,” said Glass “There is no room to allow complacency or to see anti-corruption compliance as a finished project. The corporate world has done a great deal to address anti-corruption, but companies can’t rest on their laurels. The likely implementation of deferred prosecution agreements will give the SFO another tool in its armoury to penalise compliance failures and encourage sustainable behavioural change.”

For specialist legal advice from criminal defence lawyers see www.beltramiandcompany.co.uk

Criminal Defence Blawg

Criminal Defence Blawg

Criminal law blogger at CriminalDefenceBlawg
Criminal Defence Blawg is a criminal law blog, sharing legal expertise and intelligence from the UK, US, Australia and beyond. Contributions from those who share great legal information. Want to get published? Contact us today.
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