Around 2010-11 lawyers got very excited, warning their clients of the new provisions of the Bribery Act 2010. New clauses appeared in contracts – almost every contract. And many companies did indeed carry out reviews of their operations to make sure they weren’t behaving corruptly. Tricky in some cases where “generosity” towards potential big customers – potential buyers of fleets of fighter jets, for instance – come with the territory.
Since then – well, hardly anything. We haven’t seen masses of prosecutions. You can imagine whisperings going on between Whitehall departments to avoid disrupting valuable commercial contracts. And now, at last a conviction has been reported – the first – and it’s not even under the Bribery Act 2010, because the offences were before then.
So a UK printing company has been fined £1,316,799 for corruption and ordered to pay £881,158 compensation, following a Serious Fraud Office Investigation. Rare enough that those investigations get over the line.
Two directors were also convicted, one was sentenced to 18 months' imprisonment, suspended for two years, the second was sentenced to three years' imprisonment, with both being disqualified from acting as company directors for six years.
So the fines and sentences were pretty tough; but one prosecution in six years? Maybe it’s not British business that has the big problem with corruption; or maybe the elements that do are discretely nodded through. Who are we to say?
Written by Paul Berwin of Berwins Solicitors.