International - Written by on Wednesday, October 30, 2013 10:23 - 0 Comments

That’s your problem: SFO Director on compliance complacency in UK PLC

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david-bioWe have previously reported on our concern that UK PLC is complacent when it comes to compliance.

At Pinsent Masons compliance conference we spoke with someone senior from Ernst & Young.  E&Y author the excellent annual fraud survey.  They told us that far from attitudes to anti-fraud and anti-bribery hardening over the last few years, instead, companies are more lax.  Desperate to do business in a tough economic climate they are taking more chances.  Cutting more corners.

A year ago we reported “that an FTI survey reported that a quarter of Board Directors surveyed said that they would endorse (or worse) the payment of bribes to win business.”

In a survey earlier this year E&Y reported that:

only half of British businesses vet their suppliers for UK Bribery Act compliance

42% of those surveyed accross all sectors did not consider anti-bribery corruption policies to be relevant

nearly 40% considered corruption to be widespread in the UK.

I put this to the SFO Director, David Green CB QC last week and asked him what, if any thoughts he had on these statistics and their juxtaposition with the complaint that the Bribery Act fetters UK PLC from doing business overseas.

His response was uncompromising.

Looking to the assembled audience of senior executives from UK PLC he said, “that’s your problem”.

In a nutshell, the SFO Director is black and white when it comes to prosecution.

He considers that his role is simply to enforce the law and prosecute those who violate it.  He expressly eschews any role in the training or education outreach that his predecessor engaged in arguing that the SFO simply has no budget for it.  With the conflicting messages coming from UK PLC namely purported concern to be compliant versus apparent complacency at best from others – it is hardly surprising.

So, for those who take the gamble, do not expect any moralising with the SFO Director.  He will simply view offenders as targets to prosecute and put behind bars.





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