The International Corruption Unit (ICU) is a new unit that has been set up within the National Crime Agency. The ICU will be the central point for investigating international corruption in the UK tackling serious bribery, corruption and money laundering around the world.
The UK Government said it is stepping up its work to investigate cases of international corruption affecting developing countries through this new specialist unit launched by International Development Secretary Justine Greening.
Although the ICU will be funded through the Department for International Development, it brings together existing investigation and intelligence units from the Metropolitan Police Service, City of London Police and the National Crime Agency.
Jon Benton, Joint Head of the ICU, said, “The message to individuals and companies who see developing countries as fair game is that the UK has zero tolerance for overseas bribery and corruption.”
Since 2006, more than 150 cases of overseas bribery and corruption have been investigated, with 27 individuals and one company prosecuted.
The ICU’s duties will include:
- investigating grand corruption and recovering and returning money that is stolen from developing countries and laundered through the UK;
- investigating the minority of UK nationals and companies who engage in bribery or other corrupt practices in developing countries;
- ensuring those responsible are brought to justice.
The Government will provide £21 million to the ICU for five years up to 2020. This budget is relatively small when compared to the £69 million budget allocated to the Serious Fraud Office for 2014/15 alone. However, it is expected that the combined intelligence and investigation approach will deliver a significant increase in money laundering and overseas bribery cases. It is also expected to provide a greater focus on preventive action including providing support to companies to ensure compliance with the Bribery Act 2010.
In recent years the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) has been the leading UK enforcement agency on anti-bribery matters. The formation of the ICU casts further doubt on the future of the SFO despite their recent success in obtaining a conviction against trader Tom Hayes for rigging the London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR). The current Director of the SFO David Green QC conceded that the SFO could be folded into a larger National Crime Agency under plans being considered by the Home Secretary, Theresa May.
Slater and Gordon Lawyers are recognised as market leaders in the field of fraud and white collar crime and have represented clients including companies, professionals, senior business executives and other individuals in numerous corruption cases.
If you or your business is subject to an ICU or SFO investigation for any reason you will need expert legal advice. The Business Solicitors at Slater and Gordon can help so call us on freephone 0808 175 7722 or contact us online and we will call you.