The UK has an impressive range of anti-corruption laws. In recent years, the laws have been codified, providing much needed clarity on the standards the law requires and a clear articulation in legislation of the main bribery and money laundering offences.
The most significant codification of the UK’s anti-bribery laws was the enactment of the Bribery Act 2010. The Act prohibits a wide range of practices: direct cash payments, lavish hospitality, favours, and facilitation or ‘grease’ payments. The Bribery Act continues to be the international gold standard for anti-corruption legislation, and has real teeth and a global reach, as offending can take place anywhere in the world. Its approach essentially requires organisations to understand and put in place processes to deal with their bribery risk. If an organisation fails to do so, it will not be able to benefit from the corporate defence of having adequate prevention procedures in place in the event of a bribery prosecution. We have acted for numerous clients since the Act came into force, designing training packages for staff, advising on how to capture and understand risk, and on compliance.
In the UK, the Bribery Act is supplemented by laws against money laundering, fraud and theft, and has a well-developed regime for recovering the proceeds of crime. More recently, unexplained wealth orders (UWOs) have been introduced requiring individuals holding assets to prove the assets were obtained from legitimate sources. We expect to see the ongoing development of new investigative tools and an increased willingness to use those tools by enforcement authorities.
Investigation advice and support
We provide legal support throughout the course of an investigation, with a particular focus on ensuring that requests for information are lawful and proportionate and that enforcement agencies comply with principles of fairness. We have legal/paralegal teams available to work on discovery and data interrogation efficiently; all have senior lawyer direction to ensure investigative effort is productive and proportionate.
Anti-corruption training and compliance design
We have significant experience in designing and delivering anti-bribery training and in assessing compliance processes. Robust risk assessments are the foundation of a strong anti-corruption compliance procedure, and we can design, and help focus, risk assessment exercises.
Strategic defence advice
The defence strategy will evolve throughout the course of an investigation, as new information becomes known and patterns of conduct emerge. We are tenacious in ensuring that all evidential avenues are explored, and report clearly on optimum strategies in light of emerging evidence.