FCPA: The Bribery Act in 2012: a Year for Transition

The past year has been one of transition for the UK Bribery Act and the Serious Fraud Office (SFO). The transitions began with the appointment of David Green QC, as Director of the SFO. Green’s appointment brought a different focus to the SFO regarding the enforcement of the Bribery Act. At the start of his four-year term David Green released a statement to the press in which he said, in part, “The SFO is here to stay. It is and will remain a key crime fighting agency targeting top-end fraud, bribery and corruption. We will play our part in maintaining in the national interest a level playing field for investors and the business community. We will work cooperatively with others in the emerging counter-fraud landscape. We will press for all the tools necessary to maximise our impact. The SFO will be tough but approachable. I am delighted to take on the leadership of the agency at this exciting and challenging time. There is much to be done.”

This change in tone was perhaps responding to a critical report by Transparency International (TI) in its 8th annual progress report on OECD Convention enforcement, entitled “Exporting Corruption”. While the TI report focused on anti-corruption efforts across the globe, it did state that “The UK Government must strengthen its anti-bribery effort by ensuring that the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) has adequate resources to investigate and prosecute bribery”. Although TI noted that under the Bribery Act, prosecutions had increased over the past year, “cutbacks to the SFO could see a decline in future UK enforcement. The Government has cut more than a third of the SFO’s budget in the last four years, hampering the prosecutor’s ability to tackle complex and damaging bribery cases ...

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