This post was written by George Brown, Matt Stone, Simon Hart, Sarah Wolff, and Jim Sanders.
The Bribery Act 2010 (the “Act”) which recently was passed by Parliament has far-reaching implications for any business which is either registered in the UK or which has any part of its operation in the UK. The breadth and importance of this legislation means that corporates and their senior officers would be well advised to familiarize themselves with the effects of this new law.
Why is this legislation important to you and your business? The Act includes:
- A new corporate offence of failing to prevent bribery: this is a strict liability offense: a company’s guilt can be a result of an attempted or actual bribery on the company’s behalf;
- “Senior officers” (including non-board level managers) can individually be held criminally liable for a company’s bribery offenses;
- Extensive extra-territorial powers of prosecution similar to those found in the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (“FCPA”);
- Offenses apply to both public and private sectors (unlike the FCPA);
- No carve-out for facilitating or “grease” payments (unlike the FCPA)
- Conviction could mean debarment from all public sector contracts within the European Union.
This legislation comes at a time of increased international co-operation between regulators not only in matters relating to bribery, including enforcement of the FCPA, but in connection with financial fraud, insider dealing and related activities. The extensive powers provided by the Act will be used by UK enforcement agencies such as the Serious Fraud Office (“SFO”) to clamp down on corrupt behavior. The Bill received Royal Assent on 8 April 2010 and its various provisions are likely to be bought into force over the next six months.
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