Bribery Act & Proceeds of Crime - Written by on Wednesday, March 21, 2012 12:16 - 0 Comments

13,623 reasons to worry if involved in Bribery with a toppled regime

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Recent statistics underscore again the likelihood that the Arab Spring may bring bad news for some.  The SFO have emphasised the likelihood of enforcement activity emanating from the Arab Spring and sought to encourage firms who may be worried about historical conduct to come clean.

Speaking in October last year the Director of the SFO warned:

“You will not be surprised, for example, to hear that we looking through Wikileaks and the other information becoming available as a result of the Arab Spring in order to see what corporations have been doing over a period of years. We are going to be very interested in the sorts of deals that are going to come to light and I am sure that this will be a fruitful source of work for us. The message from me is that if corporations are worrying about this, then they ought to come and talk to us now rather than wait for the dawn raid.”

Statistics for Suspicious Activity Reports through the year ended 30 September reinforce the point.

In the year ended 30 September 2011 the Annual Report relating to Suspicious Activity Reports stated there were: “13,623 SARs which indicated potentially corrupt PEP activity….” noting specifically that  …“The number of SARs reviewed this year is significantly higher compared with previous years and this reflects…increased SARs reporting relating to the political events of the “Arab Spring””.

The same report notes:

“This year the intelligence function covering criminal property held overseas, corruption by foreign Politically Exposed Persons (PEPs), bribery by UK firms overseas and associated money laundering was enhanced within the United Kingdom Financial Intelligence Unit structure by the creation of a dedicated International Corruption and Asset Recovery Team (ICART).

ICART produce strategic and tactical intelligence products to improve tactical delivery and intervention against PEPs and overseas bribery.”

In other words the past year has seen an avalanche of Suspicious Activity Reports flowing from the events in the Middle East.

The majority of these reports will no doubt have been filed by Banks and other intermediaries operating in the so-called ‘regulated sector’ (which would include deal lawyers) informing the authorities of information involving their clients and seeking consent to continue to proceed with their own involvement.  For example, if a bank customer wished to make a transfer which the Bank thought was suspicious then they would report the proposed transaction to the authorities seeking consent from them to effect the transaction on behalf of the client.

Their clients will be blissfully unaware of any such Suspicious Activity Report as it is a criminal offence for the reporter to ‘tip off’ anyone in relation to the making of such a report.

The repurcussions, like the effect of the Arab Spring uprisings, are likely to be felt for many years to come.


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