Bribery: UK Bribery Act prosecutions update

This useful round up of prosecutions brought under the UK Bribery Act 2010 highlights some of the cases and FCA - Bribery under the tablenotes trends in prosecution.

Although the Singaporean citizens prosecuted in the UK match-fixing trial were arrested in the UK, it is worth remembering that the UKBA dies have extra-territorial application. This means that a UK company doing business overseas can commit an act under s7 of the act, failing to prevent bribery,  if an employee, subsidiary, agent or service provider – called associated persons in the act –  bribes another person anywhere in the world to obtain or retain business or a business advantage.

A foreign company with operations in the UK can commit a s7 offence  even where the bribery takes place wholly outside the UK and the benefit or advantage to the company is intended to accrue outside the UK. 

Furthermore, an offence committed abroad by a British citizen, or someone who has a close connection with the UK, an entity or an individual ordinarily resident in the UK or a body incorporated under any UK law can be prosecuted under the act.

Let’s look at these examples in more detail.

UK firm with a foreign subsidiary

A company registered in the UK has a wholly-owned Malaysian subsidiary. The subsidiary pays a bribe to win a private sector contract in Malaysia. The UK company could be held to have committed an offence under section 7 of the Bribery Act of failure to prevent bribery if it could be established that the subsidiary was at the time performing services for or on behalf of the UK parent and the bribe was to obtain or retain business for the parent company. Whether or not the Bribery Act applies, the parent company’s anti-bribery programme should be implemented in its subsidiaries.*

Foreign firm with a UK office, bribe paid abroad

A non-UK company has a branch office, for example, in the UK. The company pays a bribe in Country X to secure a contract for work in country Y. The firm could be prosecuted under s7 of the act for failing to prevent bribery because it has a UK office. As the firm has an office in the UK, it should also have anti-bribery training which extends across the entire organisation.

 Close connection with the UK

As above, anyone with a close connection to the UK could be prosecuted under the act for an offence under ss1,2 and 6 committed outside the UK. The UK Ministry of Justice guidance offered on the definition of a close connection ranges from being  a British citizen or resident, a body incorporated in the UK or a Scottish partnership. An offence of offering a bribe made outside the UK, on behalf of a non-UK entity by a UK citizen could be prosecuted under the UKBA.

How bribes are paid

Transparency International produced this useful guide on how bribes are paid and dressed up as other services lists seven different guises for a bung, ranging from using intermediaries or middle men as Marubeni paid the price for,  to pocket money – like the match fixer in this video mentions, and training courses  (who’d have thought it!) used to hide lavish entertainment or unnecessary travel.

*Courtesy of Transparency International

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