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International

Lessons from recent SFO cases. How to conduct an internal investigation

By Laura Dunseath, Senior Associate, Pinsent Masons LLP Move quickly by instructing an external law firm to investigate the matter within a month of the allegation coming to light. Ensure that the investigation is thorough and extensive, and: Widen the scope of investigation if the interim findings suggest that misconduct was farther reaching than had been originally expected. After the matter has been reported, discuss the investigation parameters and steps with the SFO and have them sanctioned. Gather digital material in a forensically sound manner, and apply appropriate search terms to digital material before reviewing. Be prepared to share a summary of the witness interviews, along with the documents shown in interview. Ensure that the findings report is comprehensive, accurate and detailed. Remember that the SFO will test the content. Take appropriate remedial actions, including: dismissing employees who were involved; terminating tainted contracts/ withdrawing tainted bid proposals; and making improvements to your compliance programme. Most companies understand the importance of conducting an ...

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Sectors

Significant jail term in Edinburgh construction works bribery case

By Tom Stocker, Partner, Corporate Crime & Investigations, Pinsent Masons LLP Yesterday, two former employees of Edinburgh Council and two directors of a construction company received significant jail sentences for bribery contrary to The Public Bodies Corrupt Practices Act 1889 (the legislation that pre-dates the Bribery Act 2010). The council employees helped award contracts to Edinburgh Action Building Contracts Ltd (ABC Ltd) and in return they received extensive hospitality including corporate seats at Hibs and Hearts football grounds, meals out and visits to lap dancing bars as well as cash.  Invoices were then inflated to cover the cost of the hospitality. The charges related to the maintenance of council buildings from 2006 to 2010. Council worker Charles Owenson was sentenced to 4 years and 4 months for accepting bribes. The sentencing Sheriff considered that, despite Mr Owenson's guilty plea, the plea-in-mitigation put forward on his behalf  demonstrated that Mr Owenson had not accepted ...

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News & what’s on

EXCLUSIVE: U turn on DPA’s. SFO Director points to concerns over lack of incentives for DPA’s while Sir Brian Leveson says DPA companies entitled to bigger discounts.

Companies entering into DPA's following a Self Report should receive much more than a 1/3 discount said Sir Brian Leveson PC QC speaking last week at the C5 Conference in London, probably the leading anti-corruption conference outside of the US. This is important. The Deferred Prosecution Agreement Code has this to say about financial penalties for companies in DPA's: "Any financial penalty is to be broadly comparable to one that the court would have imposed upon following a guilty plea."... ...A financial penalty must provide for a discount equivalent to that which would be afforded by an early guilty plea."...   In other words the DPA Code envisages that companies seeking a DPA could expect the same financial penalty in a DPA as they might if they pleaded guilty. This never made sense. Under the Sentencing Guidelines for bribery a defendant is entitled to a 1/3 discount on their sentence if they plead guilty at the earliest opportunity. In fact, if history were to ...

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Bribery Act & Proceeds of Crime

Opinion: SFO’s second DPA – A moderate step in the right direction. Could do better.

By Laura Dunseath, Senior Associate, Pinsent Masons LLP Judicial approval was given on 8 July to the SFO's second deferred prosecution agreement which is against a UK SME (with a US parent) known for now as XYZ Ltd. The SME cannot currently be named to protect related proceedings. Since the SFO's declaration that the Standard Bank DPA, which was approved last November, set the benchmark for all future agreements, DPAs were in very real danger of becoming unfit for purpose and an over-hyped white elephant. The XYZ DPA has achieved a very welcome step back in the right direction, but it still does not go far enough to truly accomplish the Government's stated aims of incentivizing companies to self-report and co-operate with the authorities. Speaking about the latest DPA David Green said: SFO Director David Green CB QC said: “This case raised the issue about how the interests of justice are served in circumstances where the ...

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Your Questions: Answered

My company has entered into contracts with FIFA. Should I be doing anything?

Question My company has entered into various contracts over the years with FIFA.  I read with alarm last week the news stories about the arrests of FIFA officials in Switzerland. The US has signalled more arrests are likely and the Swiss prosecutor is also investigating. Should I be worried that my business may be drawn into the FIFA investigation and should I be doing anything now? Yours, Anon. The short answer Expect more revelations.  So far the enforcement action in the public domain focusses on the alleged bribe recipients – expect the suspected bribe payers to be targeted next and under the full glare of publicity. A head in the sand approach is never the best option. Businesses who have negotiated licencing deals etc. with FIFA would be well advised to run some basic checks (speak to a lawyer before you do to make sure the checks don’t create legal problems) to confirm their deals are not tainted. The longer ...

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