“Acting for corporates and individuals in matters covering the full gamut of business crime, BCL has earned ‘a profile that is entirely justified’.”
(Who’s Who Legal)
With the value of annual bribes at an estimated US$1tn worldwide, the UK authorities are tackling domestic and overseas corruption with increasing vigour. Investigations are principally undertaken by the Serious Fraud Office (where necessary invoking its compulsory evidence-gathering powers) and also the National Crime Agency’s International Corruption Unit. Such investigations are often assisted by or undertaken in conjunction with enforcement agencies in the US and elsewhere.
The Bribery Act 2010, governing corporate and individual conduct from 1 July 2011, not only prohibits the giving and receiving of bribes in the public and private sectors, but also criminalises the failure of commercial organisations to prevent bribery unless they can show they had adequate preventative procedures in place. Senior company officers may be held liable where certain corruption offences are committed with their consent or connivance. Individuals convicted of corruption face unlimited fines and up to 10 years’ imprisonment, while corporates face unlimited fines, debarment from public procurement processes (where applicable) and significant reputational damage.
Borrowing from the practice in the US, the SFO seeks to incentivise co-operation with its investigations. Organisations are encouraged to self-report corruption with the possibility of either of a civil settlement or – in appropriate cases – a Deferred Prosecution Agreement (DPA). Whilst DPAs can impose very substantial financial penalties, reparation payments and ongoing monitoring, they can avoid the costs and reputational damage attendant on a criminal trial and conviction. For individuals, it is open to the authorities to offer an agreement under the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 (“SOCPA”) in return for full co-operation, where such an agreement is necessary for the gathering of evidence and in the interests of justice.
Based on many years’ of experience, BCL provides expert strategic and technical legal advice to multi-nationals, governments, individuals and anti-corruption agencies (both in the UK and overseas), at all stages of the investigative process, as well as in the defence of criminal proceedings where a negotiated outcome as an alternative to prosecution is not possible.