In today’s climate of anti-corruption, companies face a significant challenge in navigating the complexities of compliance. Since 2011, the Bribery Act has been in force to consolidate UK anti-corruption laws. It has wide-ranging effect to punish both individuals and commercial organisations (or its agents or affiliates) for giving or receiving bribes, including facilitation payments. It also creates a separate corporate offence where a commercial organisation fails to prevent bribery in circumstances where there were inadequate procedures in place to prevent such a failure.
It is essential that every company carrying on business in any part of the UK understands the Bribery Act and has risk-based anti-corruption policies and procedures in place, which are proportionate to the risks faced by the company. Risks are influenced by the country in which the business is operating, the sector, the nature of the transaction and the person or bodies with which it is partnering or doing business with. Commitment to preventing bribery within any organisation must come from the top. Risk assessments, policies and procedures must be documented, implemented and periodically monitored and reviewed to ensure they are effective.
Individuals, including the senior officers of a company that commits a bribery offence with their consent or connivance, face up to 10 years imprisonment on conviction. Commercial organisations face reputational harm but also very significant fines, debarment from public procurement contracts and civil recovery orders.
Our lawyers have defended corruption allegations and successfully avoided prosecution where possible. We can also advise on strategies to mitigate the risk of corruption, including due diligence on third parties, and can conduct reviews of policies and procedures. If a company suspects that bribery has been committed by any of its employees, subsidiaries or agents, then we can advise on how to carry out an internal investigation and whether a self-report should be made to the Serious Fraud Office, with a view to potentially securing a Deferred Prosecution Agreement to avoid prosecution.
To enhance our service, we have developed excellent relationships with independent former senior police investigators. We can also draw upon a network of lawyers in multiple jurisdictions to advise on local laws and procedures. If a company has been a victim of corruption, then our team can assist with bringing a private prosecution, and our highly experienced Asset Recovery team can assist with tracing and recovery of assets.