Bribery Act & Proceeds of Crime, Director - Written by on Sunday, September 9, 2012 12:56 - 0 Comments

SFO Director David Green CB QC: on SFO guidance – there won’t be any more from us. That’s not our job.

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There are some who say they want more guidance about the Bribery Act.  We disagree.

There is plenty out there.  Guidance issued by the Ministry of Justice, guidance published by not for profit organisations like Transparency International and guidance published by advisers.

The SFO has also done plenty to inform about its position through the use of speeches, podcasts and the like.

The new Director has confirmed that, unlike the US Department of Justice which has announced that it will publish guidance around the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act in October, the SFO will not be taking the same tack.

‘We are investigators and prosecutors. We are not here to offer advice, to preach or to make moral judgments. I am not on a crusade…There is oodles of guidance out there.’

The truth is the proof of the pudding will now be in the eating.

Put another way, the best way of clarifying the law is now the traditional way.  Namely, its enforcement in practice and the build up of legal precedent interpreting the meaning of statute to the extent that there is doubt by the courts.

Of course this requires prosecution.  On this, it seems there may be some time to wait.

Mr. Green said: ‘I am not going to rush for glory on this. I want the right case at the right time.’

There are some who, as time passes without enforcement action, dismiss the relevance of the Bribery Act – some corporations are said to be adopting a ‘wait and see approach’ to compliance.  If your corporation is one of those then we would counsel caution for two reasons.

First the law of intended consequences is already prevalent.  We are seeing increasing requests for representations, warranties and comfort around compliance with anti-bribery legislation when companies contract with each other.  The wait and see approach does not cut the mustard with commercial partners.

Second, the new SFO Director will seek to enforce the Bribery Act.  Those who wait to see what is going to happen might just find out what happens by way of first hand experience.

Don’t delay.  Comply today!

 

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