Businesses Brace for Bribery Crackdown

Article excerpt

United Kingdom

In a sign that regulators are clamping down on bribery and corruption in international business, from April 201 1 the UK will implement what legal experts are describing as "one of the strictest anti-bribery regimes in the world." According to Neil! Blundell, head of fraud at law firm Eversheds, the UK Bribery Act 2010 is even more far-reaching than the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act of 1977. The British law not only applies to bribery of foreign public officials but also commercial-to-commercial bribery, and includes not only UK companies but also foreign companies that do part of their business in the UK.

"If you commit any form of bribery or corruption anywhere in the world, it can hold you to account even if you only have part of your business in the UK," says Blundell. Companies can be liable for failing to prevent bribery or corruption even if they had no knowledge of it, he adds, and even if it is committed by a third party, such as an employee, agent, subsidiary or intermediary, in another country. Blundell says the penalties are likely to consist of multimillion pound fines, and in some instances directors or company board members may be considered liable and even imprisoned. …