SFO calls for collaboration to fight bribery

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20 January 2011 | Angeline Albert

The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) wants firms to blow the whistle on suppliers and other companies who break the UK’s new bribery law.

Speaking this week to corporate security chiefs at the International Security Management Association (ISMA), Vivian Robinson QC, general counsel at the SFO, said firms must “adopt and implement a policy of anti-bribery due diligence and monitoring in respect of any party with whom they have a business relationship”.

Robinson said increased sharing of information between regulating authorities, greater cross-border co-operation and “information from whistleblowers” would help the SFO uncover “cases of significant corporate misbehaviour”.     

The Bribery Act, which is set to make it easier for senior managers and companies to be prosecuted if their employees accept bribes, comes into force this April.

The act introduces a corporate offence of failure to prevent bribery by persons working on behalf of a business. A business can avoid conviction if it can show that it has adequate procedures in place to prevent bribery.

Robinson also recommended that a clear policy on giving and receiving gifts, hospitality and other expenses, be communicated to company employees, business partners, contractors and suppliers.

The new law will make it a criminal offence to give, promise or offer a bribe and to request, agree to, receive or accept a bribe, either at home or abroad, including bribery of a foreign public official. The act also increases the maximum penalty for bribery from seven to 10 years’ imprisonment, with an unlimited fine.

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