Anti-Bribery and other anti-corruption laws have become part of the UK's legal landscape in recent years, with UK enforcement agencies increasingly willing to investigate and prosecute where corporate criminal offending is discovered. As a result, businesses must focus on implementing management systems to minimise the risk, and must act swiftly where a potential issue has been discovered.
The key issue faced by businesses is the risk of criminal liability due to the actions of a single rogue employee. Proper management systems and preventative procedures can reduce these risks, and they are also a route to a legal defence if the worst happens. Developing systems can be challenging and the use of off-the peg systems often results in onerous and over-defensive controls which are disproportionate to lower-level risks and which have not been tailored to address higher-level risks.
Unlimited fines, substantial prison sentences, bars on public contracts (amongst other penalties) are all possible sanctions where an offence has been committed. By the time a potential offence is discovered, the opportunity to develop proper procedures has passed, so pro-activity is the best way to protect your business. We can provide you with the support and advice you need to navigate this complex area.
If the worst happens and you suspect an employee or agent of committing bribery on behalf of your business, you may be forced to disclose your internal investigations into such matters to regulators. Making arrangements to involve your lawyers in such investigations is an important part of keeping such investigations confidential by making proper use of ‘legal privilege’ rights.
Our Business Risk and Regulation team provides a comprehensive service to clients seeking to navigate the requirements of the Bribery Act and other anti-corruption legislation. We can provide you with assistance and support in:
- Developing proportionate and effective anti-corruption policies, procedures and management systems;
- Investigating suspected corruption incidents in a confidential, supportive and practical way.
- Bespoke training for directors, senior managers and employees on their legal duties, and how to protect themselves from criminalisation and personal penalties;
- Advising on the corporate and personal offences that can be committed under the Bribery Act, and how to avoid them;
- Providing a full legal defence service where criminal proceedings have begun, including engaging with the Serious Fraud Office to avoid prosecution where possible; and
- Providing practical support where bribery and corruption matters arise during mergers, acquisition and due diligence exercises.
A guide to dealing with business fraud
Late last month it was announced that The Serious Fraud Office ("the SFO") have entered into their third successful Deferred Prosecution Agreement ("DPA") since the introduction of the agreement.