News & what's on - Written by on Sunday, January 8, 2012 11:26 - 0 Comments

January Newsletter: Offers, predictions, what’s on, round up & tips…

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Read on for our top 5 predictions for 2012 with tips, a roundup, details of our January Sale offer, a free Birmingham masterclass, a request that you fill in our two minute survey and a last chance to win an ipod in our fun Christmas quiz.

January Sale Offer elearning 40% off

We’re offering a massive 40% off the annual cost of the use of our e-learning system in January. That means an unbeatable £1200 for unlimited users for those who sign up in January.

Click here for details. If you would like to try it for free and test yourself then click here, register as a new user and use the Password: January

If you are interested let us know and we can show you how the system collects the reports for all your employees and explain how we can tailor it for you.

5 Predictions for the next 12 months

1. A focus on international companies

We expect news to emerge of SFO investigations into international companies under the Bribery Act. We anticipate some will involve heavy Department of Justice cooperation.

TIP

International companies will often face Bribery Act exposure through undertaking some business in the UK but this may impact on different companies within their business in different ways. International companies should ensure that they have taken steps to ensure compliance or run the risk of enforcement action. We have been advising numerous overseas companies about this with particular focus on relationships with the UK business.

2. A focus on individuals

The SFO have given senior officers ample warning of the ethical standards they expect. Those who do not live up to them will receive harsh treatment. Non executive directors of international companies are particularly at risk.

TIP

Directors and Senior Officers have personal criminal responsibility under the Bribery Act. This can be triggered for turning a blind eye. Non-executive directors (and especially those of international companies) are particularly at risk since they have all the responsibility with none of the day to day control.

With the increasing regulatory burden being placed on Directors and Non-executive directors we shall run a session highlighting what Directors need to do to protect themselves from criminal liability under the Bribery Act and a range of other pieces of legislation. Register your interest by emailing barry.vitou@pinsentmasons.com

3. A focus on UK money laundering law and push on ethical shareholding

The SFO took its first foray into this territory to the surprise of many lawyers early in 2011. We wrote about it here.

The SFO have since signaled they expect Shareholders to adopt a pro-active stance in relation to their investments. This is a bold step and goes beyond Company law principles.

Expect more cases. The SFO will also lay down more principles and markers of what it expects of shareholders.

TIP

This is an area of risk for corporates and institutional investors. Where the proceeds of illegal deals can be traced then shareholders will, the SFO say, be targeted. We know the SFO is, in fact, targeting cases along these lines. Private equity and institutional shareholders beware.

4. UK Self Reporting guidance to be overhauled

The UK Self Reporting Guidance is three years old this year – but its age is measured in dog years.

Expect it to be updated later this year.

TIP

For those considering Self Reporting the existing rules are now out of date and do not reflect current practice.

5. Impact of new Director of the SFO

Expect a more aggressive SFO with a greater emphasis on prosecution under the new Director.

TIP

It is inevitable that as time passes the SFO position in relation to violations of the Bribery Act, and its predecessors, will harden. The appointment of the new SFO Director reinforces this. The new Director is a very successful seasoned prosecutor formerly with the UK’s taxation enforcement unit (HMRC).

Free masterclass in Birmingham

Are you in Birmingham on February 2nd? Join us in our free Birmingham masterclass with Chief Compliance Officer of a major UK listed PLC and get some great tips on how to comply (and hear some war stories). Click here for details of the masterclass and email barry.vitou@pinsentmasons.comto register your interest.

Round up

Half way through the first year of the Bribery Act you may think that little has happened. That would be wrong.

Our pick of monthly developments since the Bribery Act came into force is:

July – more bribery settlements

July saw the settlement of Macmillan (£11 million) and Willis ( £7 million). Both highlight the tough enforcement stance the UK has adopted in the context of anti-bribery and corruption.

August – first Bribery Act prosecution

The UK Crown Prosecution Service laid a Bribery Act charge in the first prosecution under the new Act. Not the big ticket corporate prosecution some hoped for, but, a clear indicator the new law will be used for violations at home and abroad.

September – FSA lays a marker in anti-corruption compliance

The Financial Services Authority (FSA) published its financial crime newsletter highlighting that “FSMA-authorised firms are under a separate, regulatory obligation to identify and assess corruption risk and to put in place and maintain policies and processes to mitigate corruption risk. We can take regulatory action against firms who fail adequately to address corruption risk; we do not need to find evidence of corruption to take action against a firm.”

The FSA also flagged that it is carrying out a thematic review into investment banks’ procedures to contain the risk that staff or agents receive or pay bribes.

October – Competitors will whistleblow competitors & SFO activity

We published the results of our survey where a sobering 90+% of those surveyed said they would shop a competitor for Bribery Act violations.

In the same month the SFO registers lots of activity with charges being laid against former Innospec executives as well as Victor Dahdaleh for alleged corruption violations.

November – SFO Bribery Act investigations have started

At a presentation in our offices to the UK Contractor Group, Richard Alderman Director of the SFO confirmed Bribery Act enforcement activity has already started noting:

“…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.”

December – Announcement of a new Director of the SFO

On Friday 16 December the UK Attorney General Dominic Grieve announced the appointment of the new Director of the Serious Fraud Office, David Green CB QC.

David Green is a respected and effective prosecutor who successfully transformed an underperforming Inland Revenue prosecution department and turned it round before leading the same team in a merged agency headed by the UK Director of Public Prosecutions, Keir Starmer.

Sources at the SFO have told us that they anticipate that the new appointment will lead to a subtle shift in emphasis at the SFO toward more prosecutions.

Our Christmas quiz – last chance to win an ipod

If you haven’t played our Christmas quiz yet there are only a few days left before we announce the winner. Have a go and may be you’ll win an ipod. Click here to try. Good luck.

Benchmark yourself in our regulatory survey

To help you benchmark, please complete our short (2 minutes) Corporate Risk Benchmarking Survey.

In the wake of various corporate scandals, businesses are subject to intense public scrutiny driving yet even more regulation and enforcement.

In this Corporate Risk benchmarking survey, we are looking to understand what areas of regulation and corporate risk most concerns businesses. The survey looks at various risk areas, from health and safety and data breach through to bribery and corruption. We will present and publish the results, with our analysis in a report, later in the year.

To take the survey please click here.

Stay tuned for news, views, exclusives to keep you ahead of the game…

We’ll be back in the Spring. Keep an eye on thebriberyact.com we have plenty planned with news, views and some planned exclusives to keep you ahead of the game in the world of Bribery Act compliance.

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