Bribery Act goes live today - but it's never too late

01 July 2011

The birth of the Bribery Act 2010 today represents a new chapter in corporate criminal liability, but the requirements to have anti-bribery systems and controls in place should not surprise any FSA regulated firm.

Financial crime prevention has been required by regulations since N2 (December 2001).

Last year the FSA concluded its thematic review of commercial insurance brokers. It has now signalled that it will conduct thematic investigations into the procedures of investment banks.

Given the publicity surrounding the Bribery Act, any regulatory fines for inadequate anti-bribery systems and controls will be significant; first to send a message to the City and perhaps secondly to remind the SFO that the FSA is the City regulator.

It is still not too late to put in place 'adequate procedures': the Act does not require companies to have any procedures; they will just need to show they have them if they want to run the defence to the corporate offence of failing to prevent bribery.

Add to the corporate criminal liability a substantial civil recovery claim under the Proceeds of Crime Act and the cost of failing to prevent bribery moves way beyond the reputational damage.  POCA recoveries, don't forget, can target all revenue from criminal activity and not just the profit.  A bribery scandal relating to a business-critical contract could brutalise a company.

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