Legal Alert

Enhanced Anticorruption Enforcement on Track in UK Parliament

March 4, 2010

After several years of criticism over lax enforcement of existing anticorruption laws, and more than a decade of failed efforts to pass similar legislation, the UK is on the verge of passing comprehensive anti-bribery legislation. The UK Bribery Bill is modeled after but reaches beyond the United States' Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), U.S. legislation that has in the past few years been enforced aggressively by the U.S. government against both U.S. and foreign companies.

The Bribery Bill is scheduled for its second reading before the House of Commons this week, and is on track for passage in the next two months. If enacted during this session of Parliament, the Bribery Bill would come into effect in 2010 and give the UK a strong platform upon which to build new anticorruption enforcement efforts.

The general structure of the Bribery Bill's anticorruption regime is familiar to anyone who has experience with the FCPA, including penalties for the payment or offer of illicit inducements to foreign government officials, and for failure to have adequate controls in place to detect and remediate corruption issues as they arise. However, the UK legislation takes that model several steps further, including, for example, criminal liability for bribery occurring in purely commercial settings.

A detailed review of the Bribery Bill can be found here, including a description of its four offences, their jurisdictional reach and those areas where the Bribery Bill and FCPA diverge.

McGuireWoods' Government, Regulatory and Criminal Investigations Department has attorneys with extensive experience defending anticorruption investigations; conducting anticorruption risk assessments, audits and internal investigations; and designing and helping to implement overall and anticorruption-specific corporate compliance programs and training. For more information about the capabilities of our Government, Regulatory and Criminal Investigations Department in this or any other area, including the capabilities of McGuireWoods' International Fraud/Anticorruption group.