SFO speech on the type of bribery cases it will pursue, and collection of materials on the Bribery Act 2010
The Bribery Act 2010 came into force today, 1 July 2011.
- The Act can be read here.
- The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) guidance on the Act and on the “adequate procedures” defence to the corporate offence of failing to prevent bribery can be read here.
- The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) and Director of Public Prosecutions joint guidance on the Act can be read here.
- Our post discussing the MoJ adequate procedures guidance can be read here.
- Our post on private equity, the Act and the SFO can be read here, and other posts on SFO speeches on the Act’s impact on companies can be read here and here.
The SFO says that pursuing smaller companies under the Act would be “a wrong use of resource”
The Director of the Serious Fraud Office, Richard Alderman, gave a speech on 30 June 2011 setting out his thoughts on various issues around the Act, including the response of companies to the Act and how to combat the “demand side” for bribery. The speech can be read here. Of most interest in Mr Alderman’s speech was what he had to say about the type of bribery cases that the SFO will pursue.
He spelt out clearly that the SFO would not be targeting smaller companies just because they would be the easiest ones to deal with under the Act. Instead, Mr Alderman states that the SFO is “very sympathetic” to the difficulties that the smaller company sector faces. What the SFO will in fact be doing is targeting the most difficult cases:
“The easiest cases will not necessarily be the ones that we ought to be looking for. For example, some have said that we might launch a crackdown on small companies because they will be the easiest for us to deal with. Again, no. The small sector has its own issues and we are very sympathetic here. The economy depends upon a vibrant small and medium size sector, because a flourishing sector of this nature creates lots of jobs and this is what we need. We need to help them get it right. Bringing the full force of the SFO and the criminal justice system to bear on a very small company (say under 50 people) seems to me to be a wrong use of resource. Far better to find other ways of making sure that that small company knows how to operate ethically.
What we will be doing will be to look for the most difficult cases. That is our challenge and I believe it is a challenge that is supported by the community, whether business or social. The most difficult cases will be those involving companies (whether UK or foreign) operating in a range of challenging environments that want to continue to use corruption in order to undermine ethical companies. Our ethical companies want to see fair competition. They can compete on equal terms because of the quality of what they produce. They cannot though compete properly when there is corruption. They want me to do something about that and I certainly want to do that when the foreign companies are within our jurisdiction. This will be a high priority for the SFO and we should be actively looking for these cases.”
For the example of the type of hyperbole about the Act that Mr Alderman is trying to counter in setting out the SFO’s approach, see this post.
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