UK Bribery Act is coming

The Queen announced the birth of a new bribery and corruption bill in her speech on Wednesday.   Doing business corruptly would carry a 10 year sentence if the bill succeeds – though it may be a big “if” unless the Conservatives support it.

The bill is admirably simple –  defining bribery by its objective of “improperly performing a relevant function”…. Guess we’ll know what that means when we see it?

It forbids  anyone from offering, promising or giving a bribe, as well as accepting, soliciting or agreeing to receive an illicit payment. Its provisions cover foreign public officials without the current get-out for nations which sanction or solicit such payments  at the very top.

Prosecuting  companies and senior management will be far easier where bribes have been offered, paid or received.  Companies will be exposed to prosecution for failed policies, systems and controls.  A new class of operational risks is born!

The new legislation will reach even further than the Amercian  Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, because it covers deals struck between businesses as well as with governmental bodies.

The bill can be viewed on http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld200910/ldbills/003/10003.i-ii.html

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