Construction, Extractive (incl. oil & gas), Mining, Sectors - Written by on Monday, October 28, 2013 5:02 - 0 Comments

Construction Industry Public Enemy No.1 for SFO in Sector Sweep announcement

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david-bioAt Pinsent Masons annual regulatory conference SFO Director, David Green QC warned the SFO would focus on sector sweeps with its enhanced intelligence gathering function.

Speaking to delegates he said:

“I would like our intelligence capability to be far more effective, and that would certainly involve sectoral sweeps”

Mr. Green has been developing the SFO’s intelligence function since his arrival nearly two years ago.

Referencing the Transparency International Bribe Payers Index and dealing with the question of where the SFO would look first Mr. Green warned he would prioritise sectors:

…“I would look at sectors that are most vulnerable [to economic crime], such as construction and public contracts, oil and gas.”

The Public Works Contracts and Construction sector was reported to be the most corrupt in the Bribe Payers index.

From construction Mr. Green said he’d work his way through the sector list, including, usual suspects, oil and gas and other extractives.

In good news for the Agriculture industry ,Mr. Green indicated that he anticipated that Agriculture would likely not be focus for the SFO and its sector sweep initiative.   Agriculture is last on the Transparency International Bribe Payers Index list and the sector identified by Transparency International least likely to bribe.

Opinion

The singling out of the Construction Industry by Mr. Green at the Pinsent Masons regulatory conference was a pointed and clear warning to the industry.

Pinsent Masons, [declaration of interest Barry is a partner of Pinsent Masons] says on its website that “based on size, specialisms and project success [Pinsent Masons] is recognised as the world’s largest construction and infrastructure law firm…” and that “The firm’s clients include over 50 per cent of the top 50 contractors in the world.”

Delegates to the conference included big names in the industry.

The warning of a focus on the Construction sector and public works contracts is in line with the recently published Serious Organised Crime strategy paper which announced that focus would be on steps to reduce fraud on government.  This makes sense in these cash strapped times.  On whistleblowing the paper says:

“…BIS, the Ministry of Justice and the Home Office will consider the case for incentivising whistle blowing, including the provision of financial incentives to support whistle blowing in cases of fraud, bribery and corruption. As part of this work we will examine what lessons can be drawn from the successful ‘Qui Tam’provisions in the US where individuals who whistle-blow and work with prosecutors and law enforcement can receive a share of financial penalties levied against a company guilty of fraud against the government bribery or corruption in DFID-funded developing countries…” [our emphasis]

With large government backed infrastructure projects taking place in London, the UK and globally, the construction sector has been warned.  The SFO plans to proactively target sectors.

The Construction Sector is the first on the list.

 

 

 

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