News & what's on, Our events - Written by on Sunday, October 27, 2013 5:57 - 0 Comments

Corporate prosecutions under the Bribery Act. Racing certainty or outsider? Watch this space.

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Last week at the Pinsent Masons regulatory conference David Green had a few words for all those waiting, with baited breath, for the first prosecution under the Bribery Act.  This is what he had to say:

“To those who are impatient for the first prosecution under the Bribery Act:-

We still have cases under the old legislation under investigation and awaiting trial.

 The new Act is not retrospective, and covers conduct after 1/7/2011.

Comparisons with the US are misleading.  Prosecutions under the FCPA of 1977 did not hit their stride until well into this century.

The DoJ has only last November published detailed guidance on the act, based on the action taken under it thus far.

We have charged our first offences under our Bribery Act. There will be more. We have cases under development.

The SFO will bring the right cases at the time that is right for us.

More generally, the SFO currently has some 13 cases involving 34 defendants (2 of which are corporates) in the court system awaiting their trial. 8 of these trial are listed after April 2014.

So watch this space.”

Opinion

This is all true.

However the Director will be aware, as we all are that the eyes of the world are still waiting for a Bribery Act corporate prosecution.  This is not lost on him.

Likewise, in our discussions with him, we agree that what is needed more than anything to silence some of those lobbying for guidance as to the application of the Bribery Act is a real enforcement case, with a real court and a verdict, regardless of outcome.

Then, and only then will the SFO begin to set precedent.

Guidance is of limited value – since the answer will remain the proof of the pudding is in the eating.

You can assume, then, that as soon as the SFO is in a position to do so, it will bring a corporate prosecution under the Bribery Act.

In the meantime, it would be a mistake to assume it is doing nothing.  A point highlighted last week with the prosecution of Smith & Ouzman under the old law and the recent disclosure that 50% of SFO resources are being poured into bribery cases.

As the Director said: Watch this space.

 

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