The U.K. recently launched a new Bribery Act in response to heavy criticism at home and abroad for its dated approach to global anticorruption. Prosecutions for violations are imminent, and many global companies may very well be at risk. The Bribery Act, which came into force on July 1, 2011, has made failure to prevent an actionable offense. If it can be proven that anyone – employee, agent or subsidiary – affiliated with a company doing any business in the U.K. has been involved in corruption on behalf of the company, then the company can be held accountable.
The London-based McGuireWoods anticorruption team has advised clients on U.K. Bribery Act compliance, including policy drafting, updates, risk assessment, training and monitoring. Having closely monitored the Bribery Act since its inception, the team has supported a series of seminars, webinars and client presentations focusing on the Bribery Act, as well as provided an ongoing, well-subscribed-to blog – briberylibrary.com.
Moreover, Barrister Vivian Robinson Q.C., formerly first general counsel to the Serious Fraud Office (SFO), is a member of the international team at McGuireWoods and a partner in the firm’s Government, Regulatory and Criminal Investigations Department. Widely regarded as the SFO’s leading authority on the U.K. Bribery Act 2010, Mr. Robinson has led the development of the SFO’s enforcement policy under the Bribery Act. He has also served as the SFO’s primary liaison to the public and the business community, alerting them to the Bribery Act’s requirements at conferences from London and New York to Brazil, Brussels, Switzerland and Germany. Based in London, but working internationally, Mr. Robinson’s role includes not only advice to the firm’s clients on the impact of the U.K. Bribery Act, but also on white collar crime matters involving global fraud and corruption. His depth of experience in white collar crimes and investigations, and his considerable contacts within government and the business sector, strengthen the firm’s transatlantic expertise.
The UK government is not alone in its increased focus on anticorruption. The Obama Administration has made it a priority to crack down on corruption, and in the last year, there has been an unprecedented rise in the number, severity and scope of FCPA enforcement actions by the U.S. government.
McGuireWoods has extensive experience advising company management on issues related to ethics and compliance, including interpreting government ethics legislation and advising clients on complying with those laws. We also have experience developing and reviewing compliance materials, including corporate codes of conduct, training materials, and charters for implementing compliance efforts within an organisation. Our lawyers include a former in-house chief compliance officer, a number of former U.S. federal prosecutors, and numerous others with substantial experience developing and implementing effective compliance programmes and evaluating their effectiveness.
When businesses anticipate potential litigation or a government investigation, a prompt, well-focused and thorough investigation is critical. We have broad experience conducting investigations of alleged criminal conduct or regulatory violations, or related to potential litigation. We can get to the bottom of a matter quickly and efficiently, knowing that working cooperatively with internal corporate resources is key.
Boards of directors, shareholders, regulators, and enforcement officials expect companies to respond quickly and effectively to allegations of wrongdoing. Accordingly, we advise clients to conduct internal investigations as soon as there is any credible or substantial evidence of wrongdoing.
Our responsive lawyers guide clients through investigations so that everyone involved can: (1) assess and manage risk; (2) develop appropriate responses to actual or anticipated government initiatives; (3) maximise credibility with regulators and enforcers; (4) minimise regulatory sanctions, protracted civil litigation or criminal prosecution; and (5) minimise disruption to ongoing business activities.