Most people do not come across the terms “bribery” and “corruption” in their ordinary working lives, but the Bribery Act 2010, which came into force on 1 July 2011, is regarded as being one of the toughest anti-bribery statutes in the world and an awareness of the legislation may cause some to reflect on their working practices.
Bribery is a serious offence and the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) will investigate and, if appropriate, prosecute those who commit bribery and corruption and pursue them and others for the proceeds of their crime. The maximum penalty for bribery has been increased from seven to 10 years imprisonment, with an unlimited fine.
The Bribery Act 2010 covers bribery in both the private and public sectors. The Act takes a robust approach to commercial bribery, but the offences are also applicable where attempts are made to influence decisions by local authorities, regulatory bodies or elected representatives.
The Act introduces a corporate offence of failure to prevent bribery by persons working on behalf of a business. A business can avoid conviction if it can show that it has adequate procedures in place to prevent bribery.
It also makes it a criminal offence to give, promise or offer a bribe and to request, agree to receive or accept a bribe either at home or abroad. The Act also covers bribery of a foreign public official.
It is recognised that bona fide hospitality or promotional or other legitimate business expenditure is an established and important part of doing business. It is also the case, however, that bribes are sometimes disguised as legitimate business expenditure.
Both companies and individuals will need to understand the implications of the Bribery Act 2010 to ensure their working practices are compliant with the legislation.
If you have been concerns that you or your company may have committed offences under the Bribery Act 2010 or have been accused of bribery or any other crime, you must call a lawyer straight away, even before you speak to the police.
Call our expert team of Criminal Defence Lawyers at Slater and Gordon on freephone 0800 916 9082 or contact us online and we will call you.