Proposals for a new criminal finance bill will, if implemented,
hold company boards criminally responsible for offences such as
money-laundering and false accounting committed by their employees.
This is a move that is being heralded as a "crackdown on
white-collar crime" and would align Britain more with the
US' notoriously tough stance in relation to such crimes.
Currently companies are only responsible for failing to stop
bribery. As evidence of misconduct has to be found at board level
for a company to be found liable it has been easy for boards to
distance themselves from their employees' actions, as evidence
of board level misconduct is often elusive. However, if the
proposals are implemented, boards could find themselves being
prosecuted for failing to prevent economic crimes ̶
essentially they could be held liable for the actions of their
The proposals are still very much in the formative stages and a
consultation period is reported to be commencing shortly. However,
if implemented, these proposals would signal a major change in
corporate criminal law. Companies will need to think about how they
can actively prevent economic crimes, what policies and procedures
they will need to implement to assist in such prevention, and will
need to make changes to any incentive schemes that could be seen to
motivate employees to do the wrong thing.
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