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July 2011 | Paul Snell
UK Financial Services Authority (FSA) has fined professional services firm
Willis Limited nearly £7 million for failing to prevent bribery.
there was no evidence corruption had taken place, the FSA said a lack of
controls at the company meant there was an “unacceptable risk” that payments
made by the firm to third-parties overseas “could be used for corrupt purposes,
including paying bribes”.
fine of £6.895 million is the largest penalty handed out for this type of
offence, beating the £5.25 million the FSA fined Aon in 2009.
regulator said that between 2005 and 2009, Willis – which advises firms on risk
management - had made payments totalling £27 million to third parties who then
helped the company keep and win business abroad. Up until 2008, the firm did
not set out and record the reason for these payments, did not carry out
sufficient due diligence on the people it was paying and did not review these
relationships. Although policies were introduced to address this post-2008, the
firm still failed to ensure staff were adhering to them until the end of 2009.
FSA investigation identified “suspicious payments” of $227,000 (£139,275)
relating to business in Egypt and Russia which have since been reported to the
Serious Organised Crime Agency.
has committed to reviewing its payments to identify if any were inappropriate.
McManus, CEO of Willis Limited, said in a statement: “When we discovered some
of our businesses had not got that right in the past, we were swift to engage
with the FSA towards today’s regulatory resolution. Our close co-operation has
been recognised by the FSA and we are grateful to them for that. It goes
without saying that our compliance framework and its application across the business
are now very robust and central to the leadership of the company.”
received a 30 per cent reduction in its fine, as a result of its co-operation
and agreeing to make an early settlement.