International

SFO Co-operation guidance

The UK Serious Fraud Office (SFO) has issued its long-awaited guidance on corporate co-operation. For the first time in one place, the SFO has set out what in its view are ‘indicators of good practice’ for companies under investigation. This is a helpful clarification. In its own words the SFO defines co-operation as going ‘above and beyond’. The list of indicators of good co-operation practice is extensive and not, as the SFO itself points out, exhaustive. That said, the SFO acknowledges that each case turns on its own facts, and some indicators on the list may not apply in some cases, perhaps hinting at a little flexibility depending on specific circumstances. Companies dealing with the SFO and/or identifying suspected wrongdoing in their organisation must therefore carefully consider the guidance and determine whether and/or to what extent they can meet the SFO’s co-operation requirements. Companies should also review existing policies and procedures dealing with internal investigations in ...

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Sectors

M&A deal exposes bribery. No action taken against company while vendor pays heavy price and receives lengthy jail term.

In a case that demonstrates the perils of selling a business with an illicit contract on 30 May 2019 the SFO issued a press release announcing that Carol Ann Hodson, the former director and owner of a company named ALCA Fasteners Ltd (ALCA), pleaded guilty to paying bribes amounting to £300,000 in order to secure contracts worth £12m. The bribes were paid to purchasing manager1 of a German company over the course of five years and, according to a Serious Fraud Office (SFO) press release, the bribes were paid monthly in cash instalments and on one occasion, Ms Hodson sent jewelry in a brown envelope to the purchasing manager. While the bribery scheme itself may not be noteworthy what is is first, the fact it was revealed following the sale of the business when the buyers picked it up and more importantly second, the pragmatic approach taken by the SFO in respect of the ...

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News & what’s on

Subsidised anti-bribery help from the UK Government for SME’s. Eyes wide open: strings attached!

Without much fanfare the government recently launched a subsidised Business Integrity Consultancy Service. Despite the lack of publicity, and the somewhat opaque government website marketing the scheme, the initiative appears, at first blush, to be a potentially valuable resource for SMEs that want to expand their businesses into certain high-risk areas of the globe, i.e., emerging markets that carry risks of bribery, corruption, and human rights issues, according to the UK government.  This is especially so since the government has recently rejected the House of Lords suggestion that additional guidance on Adequate Procedures would be useful stating that: "…the guidance was only ever intended to provide general procedural guidance. It was deliberately not prescriptive but is certainly not a one-size-fits-all document. It is rather an outline guide as to how businesses should go about the task of determining what is required for them in a way of bribery prevention procedures." "...the Government does not ...

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Bribery Act & Proceeds of Crime

From the horses mouth: Specialist Adviser to the recent Bribery Act Committee, Anne-Marie Ottaway writes…

I recently had the honour to be Specialist Advisor to the House of Lords Select Committee, which published the report of its findings following its post legislative scrutiny of the Bribery Act.  Here are my thoughts on the report. Background of the Bribery Act The Bribery Act was passed, with much fanfare, in 2010 and came into force on 1 July 2011. The Act simplified previous anti-corruption legislation dating back to 1889 and 1906 and introduced for the first time a specific corporate offence of failure to prevent bribery. Under the Act, the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) was required to publish guidance for businesses on the adequate procedures they would need to implement to have a defence to the failure to prevent offence. The Act applies to UK companies and foreign companies conducting business or part of a business in the UK. It pertains to conduct in both domestic and foreign jurisdictions and applies to ...

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Subsidised anti-bribery help from the UK Government for SME’s. Eyes wide open: strings attached! https://t.co/MPLGpc5Gvj


Your Questions: Answered

I have received a Section 2 Notice from the Serious Fraud Office, what should I do? Do you have any tips?

I have received a Section 2 Notice from he Serious Fraud Office.  What is it and what should I do? Are there any tips for how I should deal with one? With the so-called criminalisation of corporate law and increasingly U.S.-approach adopted by UK law enforcement, it is more likely that a corporation may one day receive a communication from the UK Serious Fraud Office (SFO).  Frequently, a communication from the SFO will come in the shape of the receipt of a Section 2/2A Notice.  Recent figures for the last 12 months show that the SFO issued over 800 last year. What is a Section 2/Section 2A Notice? Broadly speaking, Section 2/2A Notices are used by the SFO to compel the provision of information and documents (including digital material) from witnesses and potential suspects relating to its investigations.  The name Section 2 is taken from the legislation, the Criminal Justice Act 1987, which ...

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