The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)
published its report on the UK's implementation and application
of the OECD convention on combating the bribery of foreign public
officials on 30 March 2012.
The report found that the UK has 'significantly boosted'
its foreign bribery enforcement activities since the OECD's
previous report. The OECD found that the UK has made substantial
efforts to raise awareness of the implementation of the Bribery Act
2010 and the specific offence of bribing a foreign public
The report concluded that this has led to heightened awareness
of foreign bribery related issues in the UK. The OECD's
findings also concluded that the Serious Fraud Office
("SFO") has 'significantly' increased its
enforcement against foreign bribery.
However, despite these great strides, the report found that the
UK needs to increase transparency when resolving cases involving
foreign bribery. The OECD is concerned that the UK authorities are
increasingly relying on civil recovery orders rather than criminal
plea agreements to resolve cases, thus requiring less judicial
oversight. The report also voiced concerns that confidentiality
agreements entered into by the SFO are preventing the disclosure of
key information after cases are settled.
The report made a number of recommendations, including:
Taking steps to ensure that SFO and police resources to tackle
foreign bribery cases are adequate;
The FSA and SFO should coordinate enforcement action where
appropriate and the SFO should ensure that it investigates
allegations of foreign bribery and prosecute, where appropriate,
regardless of whether the FSA take regulatory action; and
The SFO should establish clear procedures and criteria for
communicating with organisations concerning their conduct.
The UK is required to report informally on its efforts to
implement these recommendations within 12 months and then has to
submit a written report within two years detailing the steps it has
taken to implement all the report's recommendations.
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The ramifications for those found to be in civil contempt (as presided over by the High Court), and, in particular, the court’s power to enforce such a finding against a contemnor who resides overseas, are more far reaching than many (civil) lawyers realise.
The Bribery Act has made the news again following the conviction of a would be taxi driver. Earlier this week, at Minshull Street Crown Court in Manchester, Mr Mawia Mushtaq became the second person convicted of an offence under the Bribery Act by attempting to bribe a Licensing Officer.
In the previous edition of Corporate Focus we reported that the Bribery Act 2010 (the Bribery Act) came into force on 1 July 2011 and we considered procedures that commercial organisations could put into place in order to prevent bribery.
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