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.