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The Power of The Bribery Act: A Wake Up Call from China

The recent arrest in China, of Mark Reilly, the British boss of GlaxoSmithKline's China unit is significant in that it's the first arrest of a foreign national in this long running investigation.

It's also a timely reminder of the potential reach of the UK’s Bribery Act and of the need to have adequate and up to date anti-bribery controls in place at your business.

If Mr Reilly could be shown to have acted in contravention of the Bribery Act, then as a British Citizen, he could potentially be prosecuted in the UK for offences under the Act even though all of the alleged improper conduct may have taken place in China.

Of potentially more significance GlaxoSmithKline, as a UK company, could separately risk prosecution under s.7 of the Bribery Act for having failed to prevent the alleged conduct, and if prosecuted would then have to show that it had adequate procedures in place designed to prevent bribery from occurring.

Although there is guidance issued on what might constitute adequate procedures, the point has not yet been tested by the Court and so uncertainty remains as to how far a company like GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) would have to go to establish this defence.

A company convicted of the s.7 offence could face an unlimited fines and confiscation of any profits secured through improper conduct.

It remains to be seen how this possible scenario will develop, but one possible option open to the company, if it considers that it might be at risk of prosecution, is to seek a Deferred Prosecution Agreement.

Business Crime Solicitors at Slater and Gordon have over 30 years experience in this area and are acknowledged independently as leaders in the field. We can assist both individuals and businesses if you:

  • Are asked to assist with an investigation by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) or other agency investigating alleged corruption
  • Think you may be charged with an offence under the Act or any other legislation
  • Have been charged with an offence by the SFO or any other agency.

Slater and Gordon Lawyers offer a free initial 30 minute consultation for business crime related issues and can assist businesses 24 hours a day 7 days a week. Please call freephone 0800 916 9054 or contact us online and we'll be happy to help.

Slater and Gordon have over 1,200 staff and 18 offices located in London, Manchester, Liverpool, Sheffield, Birmingham, Milton Keynes, Bristol, Cambridge, Edinburgh, Cardiff, Halifax, Newcastle, Wakefield & meeting rooms in Bramhall, Cheshire.

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