UK: The Long Arm Of British Anti-Corruption Laws And The Impact On Individual Defendants

Last Updated: 1 September 2014
Article by Adam Greaves

Bruce Hall, the former Chief Executive Office of Aluminium Bahrain Bsc ("ABLA") was sentenced on 22 July 2014 to 16 months in prison for conspiracy to corrupt in relation to contracts for the supply of goods and services to ALBA during the period September 2001 to June 2005.  The Serious Fraud Office ("SFO") press release is here.

Followers of this blog will remember that the SFO also prosecuted Victor Dahdaleh, a British/Canadian billionaire, whose trial collapsed at the end of 2013.  We blogged previously here , here and here.

Bruce Hall decided in 2012 to plead guilty to the charges laid by the SFO in 2012.  He accepted that he had received £2.9 million in corrupt payments between 2002 and 2005 including 10,000 Bahraini Dinars in cash from Sheikh Isa Bin Ali Al Khalifa, a member of the Bahraini Royal Family and, at the time, Bahrain's Minister of Finance and ALBA's Chairman.  The payments were made in exchange for Mr Hall agreeing to and allowing corrupt payments that Sheikh Isa had been involved in before Mr Hall's appointment as CEO to continue as a result of the corrupt payments received.  Mr Hall was ordered to pay: 

  • £3,070,106.03 within seven days, or face serving an additional term of imprisonment of 10 years; 
  • compensation to ALBA in the amount of £500,010; 
  • £100,000 as a contribution to the prosecution costs. 

The Judge presiding over the hearing, Judge Loraine-Smith said: 

"In any view, this was an extremely serious use of corruption...you breached the trust that was placed in you as the CEO of ALBA...corruption has been described as an insidious plague that has corrosive effects across communities...there was a reluctance by you to accept that what was done by you was as corrupt as it so obviously was..." 

Judge Loraine-Smith also noted that Mr Hall had cooperated with numerous authorities throughout the investigation.  The Judge held that if he had not been so cooperative, he could have faced around six years in prison, close to the maximum sentence for conspiracy to corrupt (under the old, pre-Bribery Act 2010 laws).  As a result of his cooperation Mr Hall was entitled to a 66% reduction in his sentence and a further one third reduction due to entering a guilty plea.  In addition to which, the 119 days that Mr Hall spent in prison in Australia awaiting extradition to the United Kingdom would be taken off his sentence. 

As part of Mr Hall's mitigation, he also agreed to divest himself of other corrupt payments which he had received during his time as the CEO of ALBA.  These payments were not part of the indictment as the SFO did not have jurisdiction to prosecute for the conduct acknowledged by Mr Hall.  In order to recover the other payments received by Mr Hall, which amounted to US$900,000, the director of the SFO launched proceedings under Part 5 of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 in the High Court. 

Although the SFO had a fairly spectacular failure during the ALBA case in its prosecution of Victor Dahdaleh (on which we have blogged previously - links above), the prosecution of Bruce Hall is another SFO success story and should properly be regarded as such.  Even though the prosecution took place under the pre 1 July 2011 (the date the Bribery Act came into force) corruption laws, which pre-date the Bribery Act 2010 and which are still being used to prosecute for offences which took place prior to that date, nevertheless this case amply demonstrates: 

  • That British anticorruption laws can affect foreign individuals living outside of the UK, and that extradition treaties can be utilised to force those individuals to face trial in the UK; 
  • That the SFO and the British courts will use the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 to force individuals to disgorge the profits made from corruption. 
  • The investigations/prosecutions can hang over an individual (or indeed a corporate defendant) for many years – in this case the SFO formally opened its investigation in 2009.  For most people that may mean their lives are in limbo during the whole period, and they may be unable to obtain employment during that time, or at least at the same level or in the same industry.
  • Practices of corruption which are regarded as almost de rigeur in many countries around the world will be viewed very differently indeed if they come before the English courts which have repeatedly stated that defendants are no better than "common criminals".

The inference to be made from this court order is that  the crime of corruption really doesn't pay, especially for board level directors, and that individuals who get involved in (or permit existing arrangements to continue unabated) international corruption are at risk of being prosecuted in one or more jurisdictions around the world and are liable to lengthy terms of imprisonment as well as very substantial penalties and orders for disgorgement of payments.  That said, one one view, for wealthy defendants like Victor Dahdaleh, there is still an argument for aggressively defending these prosecutions because Mr Dahdaleh's trial collapsed (the SFO's statement on the collapse is here) and he is no longer being prosecuted, whereas Bruce Hall pleaded guilty at an early stage for the very same allegations, and Mr Hall by contrast has suffered all the penalties set out above.  As with all prosecutions, the way a defendant pleads to them is ultimately his/her own decision and often a complete gamble, but the orders made by Judge Loraine-Smith on 22 July 2014 show that the courts will make substantial discounts in sentencing as a result of a guilty plea and cooperation with the prosecution, and this should encourage defendants to work out for themselves the benefits of cooperation.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Authors
 
In association with
Up-coming Events Search
Tools
Print
Font Size:
Translation
Channels
Mondaq on Twitter
 
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
 
Email Address
Company Name
Password
Confirm Password
Position
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Accounting
 Anti-trust
 Commercial
 Compliance
 Consumer
 Criminal
 Employment
 Energy
 Environment
 Family
 Finance
 Government
 Healthcare
 Immigration
 Insolvency
 Insurance
 International
 IP
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Litigation
 Media & IT
 Privacy
 Real Estate
 Strategy
 Tax
 Technology
 Transport
 Wealth Mgt
Regions
Africa
Asia
Asia Pacific
Australasia
Canada
Caribbean
Europe
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
U.K.
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement

Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of www.mondaq.com

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about Mondaq.com’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.

Disclaimer

Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.

Registration

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to unsubscribe@mondaq.com with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.

Cookies

A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.

Links

This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.

Mail-A-Friend

If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.

Security

This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to webmaster@mondaq.com.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to EditorialAdvisor@mondaq.com.

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at enquiries@mondaq.com.

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at problems@mondaq.com and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.