The Bribery Act

Asked whether all companies listed in the UK potentially fall under the remit of the Bribery Act, he said: \”Exactly. You bet we will go after foreign companies. This has been misunderstood. If there is an economic engagement with the UK then in my view they are carrying on business in the UK.\”

The Bribery Act will allow the SFO to prosecute UK and foreign companies for acts of bribery committed anywhere in the world provided they have some business presence in the UK.

I can think of at least one FTSE company that would be entirely screwed by this interpretation. Given that they operate in a part of the world where business without bribery simply is not possible.

The hard line on foreign companies comes on the day the new Act comes into force (Friday). In an exclusive interview with The Telegraph, SFO director Richard Alderman also promised to take a tough line on larger companies, but said he would not pursue small and medium-sized firms suspected of committing bribes.

He said: \”Some people have speculated that we will be going for low-hanging fruit, that we will be going for smaller companies, to which my reply is \’rubbish\’. That is not our approach.

\”We are going to go for the difficult cases. If the only cases that come through our door involve smaller companies we will work through education rather than prosecution.\”

Which drives a coach and horses through the law in itself.

Time, perhaps, to get a little company somewhere and offer to at as an \”intermediary\” for a fee? After all, that\’s what people have been doing for American companies for decades.

8 thoughts on “The Bribery Act”

  1. My interests are in Section 16 of the Act…’…individuals in public service of the Crown…’ In my experience working in FSU and Africa, officials turn their back to firms involved in fighting for business contracts overseas, Dfid and World-Bank officials especially. 80% of contracts are corrupt in these territories (at least), and only once in 13 years has an official ever intervened to help. If firms now complain to Dfid and Worldbank officials and they fail to intervene, prevent, investigate then to my interpretation and our solicitors they are in breach of the new law and can be prosecuted. This new law may result in Govt and donor officials being forced to overseeing award of contracts (at great expense), for fear of prosecution in the UK courts. To many businesses this could be an advantage (although an expensive one), which is why there are so many happy faces around Chancery Lane today.

  2. The idea that the State is going to ignore easy targets and instead target powerful, difficult ones is risible.

  3. Whats wrong with bribery? If thats the way the market works in some parts of the world so be it. I have similar feelings about ticket touts – they make the market work more efficiently, even though some think it is ‘unfair’

  4. The doctrine of Multiculturalism requires that we accept bribe-demanding cultures as entirely valid.

  5. What’s more important to understand is what sort of bribery they are going to prosecute. There is one kind, which is done in order to obtain an advantage or circumvent a law. There is another, which is to get the person or department who is supposed to be doing his job to actually do it. Those who engage in the first should be treated harshly, those who engage in the second….well, that’s almost every company operating outside north America, northern Europe, and Australia/NZ.

    Interestingly, my company is on an anti-corruption drive at the moment (for those who know who I work for, stop sniggering!) and the compulsory training course I took recently only covered the first type of corruption and ignored the second. At least they were being realistic.

  6. Well, they are called the Serious Fraud Office, not the Trivial Fraud Office.

    If they were called the Trivial Fraud Office, they would presumably funnier farces.

  7. they would presumably produce*

    And I note that I’m actually a bit annoyed that I am getting picked apart over childhood circumstances beyond my control.

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