Bribery Act & Proceeds of Crime - Written by on Tuesday, September 6, 2011 23:20 - 0 Comments

Tick tock…how long until SFO begin first Bribery Act investigation?

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The million dollar question is: When will the UK (and the SFO) move and enforce the Bribery Act against a corporate?

Last week saw the first charges laid under the Bribery Act by the Crown Prosecution Service.

There was criticism that with the world eagerly awaiting the first prosecution under the Bribery Act the UK missed an opportunity by not focusing on a large corporate in the first case.

On Monday this week Richard Alderman, the Director of the SFO, spoke on enforcement and timing.

He said:

“we will continue to have many cases under that old law for some time to come.”

However, in a very clear warning he added:

“Clearly, the Bribery Act is not retrospective and it will apply only to bribes paid after 1 July this year. What this means is that there will appear to be little activity in public about enforcement of the Bribery Act at this stage. Please though be under no illusions about this. People in the SFO are out there now actively looking for evidence of bribes that are being paid. This is a very high priority for us. Any companies that may have comforted themselves with the thought that nothing is going to happen will have a rude awakening when they start to see what the SFO is able to do in the future. The reaction may be along the lines of, ‘we didn’t expect them to do anything like that’.

We are looking for the Bribery Act and SFO action to make a real step change in the behaviour of corporations. We are seeing this at present with many companies of varying sizes in the UK and it is a trend that I very much welcome. There are others though where I believe that more is needed. It may be that the companies need the shock either of the knock on the door in the morning with search warrants showing that we are focusing on them directly. Perhaps they might see another company in trouble with the SFO and they recognise that they have the same problem.”

The threats of enforcement from the SFO continue.

As we said last week one impact of the case publicized last week is that the chances of an SFO spectacular have risen.

Patience.  We don’t think it will be too long to wait now…


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