News & what's on - Written by on Monday, November 7, 2011 13:28 - 3 Comments

SFO Director confirms SFO Bribery Act enforcement activity has already begun…

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Speaking on Friday to a construction sector audience at Pinsent Masons London office, Richard Alderman Director of the SFO, confirmed what we have been predicting for some time.  Namely, that the SFO are already engaged in Bribery Act enforcement activity.

The SFO Director confirmed: “…there is already Bribery Act activity by the SFO.  It is not out there in the public domain because our approach is to corporations and the work we are doing with them at this stage must inevitably remain confidential. There may be outcomes in future depending on what we find that may become public but that is for another day.” [our emphasis]

The Director spoke at length about the enforcement strategy of the SFO.  Following criticisms in relation to the first Bribery Act prosecution brought by the UK Crown Prosecution Service against a junior UK court employee Mr. Alderman said:

“Some people have said that the SFO will be going for low hanging fruit.  I know what the low hanging fruit are and I’m sure that in a week or so we could find half a dozen cases or more.  But that is not our approach.  We are looking for the more difficult cases and I’m under no illusions about this.  A number of the cases that we need to deal with are going to be amongst the most challenging that the UK criminal justice system will have seen.  I have to say that this seems to me to be a reason for doing them and not a reason for not doing them.”

However the Director of the SFO once again struck a pragmatic and constructive approach to anti-corruption and the objective of the SFO to stamp out corruption by working with business.

Speaking to the audience he said: “We are finding suspicions of bribery after July 1st by various corporations.  What we have been doing in a few instances is inviting the corporation to come and talk to us and explaining to them that we believe they may have a problem.  We are giving them the opportunity to work with us on how this problem is going to be remedied and indeed what is needed in order to ensure that there is a proper anti-corruption culture. We are giving them the opportunity to work with us and I believe that that is the right approach.”

However, as ever there was a sting in the tail. For those who mistakenly think that the SFO is  all bark and no bite Mr. Alderman had this to say:

“There will also be instances of alleged bribery where we decide that an approach to the corporation would not be right and that we must start to develop the investigation ourselves.  These investigations are going to be complex and will range across many jurisdictions. There are some [cases] we are considering now. This will happen.” [our emphasis]

Image © Crown Copyright 2011

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Luis F. Ortiz
Nov 10, 2011 16:45

How is this going to affect UK companies abroad? Must they strengthen their auditing and internal controls?

Week In Review, November 11, 2011 « PharmaCertify™
Nov 11, 2011 14:20

[…] in the UK, Richard Alderman, the director of the Serious Fraud Office (SFO), has confirmed there is Bribery Act enforcement activity occurring in the office. The SFO is working directly with corporations, and as such, much of the […]

Barry & Richard
Nov 13, 2011 4:07

Hello Luis, In pratice it is likely that UK companies abroad will strengthen controls and internal audit to ensure compliance.

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