Linklaters hosts London First debate: “Fighting Corruption – How effective are we?”
On 23 April 2014, Linklaters was pleased to welcome David Green CB QC, director of the Serious Fraud Office (“SFO”) and Robert Barrington, executive director of anti-corruption organisation Transparency International UK (“TI”) to debate the effectiveness of the UK’s anti–bribery and corruption legislation.
Mr Green gave an overview of the SFO’s current activities and acknowledged the problems associated with establishing corporate criminal liability, repeating his suggestion that a simple amendment to the Bribery Act 2010 extending the section 7 offence to economic crimes beyond bribery would simplify prosecutors’ task in this respect. He also outlined the deferred prosecution agreement procedure, adding that the SFO would expect nothing less than “co-operation, co-operation, co-operation” from companies self-reporting and seeking to take advantage of the process. Of particular interest to the audience was Mr Green’s comment that the SFO would seek to use all modern lawful methods of intelligence gathering in its strategy of “intrusive surveillance”, including phone tapping powers, and that these would be deployed particularly against the “enablers and facilitators” of economic crime.
Mr Barrington commented that the UK is winning the fight against corruption but added that it was important to take the long view. The government has been very positive in its statements condemning corruption, particularly that occurring overseas and the UK’s 14th position in TI’s 2013 corruption perceptions index suggests that we are doing well. However, there remain a number of issues to address, not least the use of London’s financial system by criminals to launder funds obtained through corruption elsewhere.