On June 30, 2015, the eve of the fourth anniversary of the date on which the UK Bribery Act of 2010 became effective (July 1, 2011), I hosted an interesting webcast on the Bribery Act with four leading professionals in the UK. The panel, which included two former senior officials from the UK's Serious Fraud Office, discussed the current state of the UK's enforcement of the Bribery Act, as well as the imminent debut of Deferred Prosecution Agreements in the UK later this year and a possible new law that would target corporations' failure to prevent fraud.
The panel featured Barry Vitou (author of thebriberyact.com) and Anne-Marie Ottaway of law firm Pinsent Masons; Vivian Robinson QC, former general counsel to the UK’s Serious Fraud Office and now a partner in McGuireWoods; and Julian Glass of FTI Consulting.
The panel first looked at DPAs, which have been available as a tool for prosecutors since February 2014. The panel noted that the first DPAs in the UK (at least one or two) are expected to be completed by the end of 2015. The panel observed that in May 2015, Ben Morgan, the SFO's Joint Head of Bribery and Corruption, stated that the SFO has now "issued our first invitation letters giving corporates the opportunity to enter into DPA negotiations.” He added that “we are no longer, at the SFO, in the world of having to talk up DPAs like some sort of salesmen; corporates want them and some will get them.
The panel said that regarding the Bribery Act, the big question now is when the SFO will bring its first corporate prosecution. The panel said that these cases take a considerable amount of time to prepare, but that there are many cases known to be ongoing (including investigations concerning Rolls Royce, GSK, Barclays, G4S, Serco, Alstom, Olympus, GPT, ENRC and Tesco).
The panel also addressed a possible new amendment to the Bribery Act that SFO Director David Green has advocated. Green has said that he wants to amend the Bribery Act "to create the offence of a company failing to prevent acts of financial crime by its associated persons. That would significantly increase our reach on corporate criminality, and is an idea that appears to be gaining traction.” According to the panel, Green believes that creating such an offense would also complement the introduction of DPAs.
You can watch the whole webcast below. The presentation materials from the webcast are available here.