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SFO chief denies Bribery Act not working

In a speech recently, the head of the Serious Fraud Office denied that the lack of prosecutions under the Bribery Act shows that the legislation is not working.

David Green, director general of the SFO, said that there are a number of cases in the pipeline and he would bring “the right cases at the time that is right for us.”

Under the Bribery Act 2011, the SFO was given major new anti-bribery powers in a crackdown on companies involved in bribery. It led to concerns that the agency would scrutinise companies’ compliance with rules concerning corporate hospitality and facilitation payments in particular, but to date there have been no prosecutions.

 “To those who are impatient for the first prosecution under the Bribery Act…watch this space,” Mr Green said. He also criticised his predecessor, saying that the guidance he had inherited “contained an implied presumption that self-reported misconduct would be dealt with by civil settlement rather than prosecution.” Whereas he feels that “no prosecutor should appear to offer such a guarantee in advance."

Mr Green also encouraged companies to ‘self-report’ internal criminality, or risk corporate charges, despite the perceived difficulties in bringing such cases. He highlighted section seven of the Bribery Act (which permits a corporate offence where a company fails to prevent bribery by its employees) as one way to overcome such difficulties.

For more information on the Bribery Act please contact Rebecca Beswick at Lawson-West on 0116 212 1000.

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