Recent Developments in U.K. Bribery Act Enforcement: SFO Head Green Speaks, Abbot Group Settles and Rolls-Royce Reveals Bribery Investigation

There is growing concern that the U.K. Bribery Act 2010 (Bribery Act), which took effect in July 2011, may pose more serious risks for multinational businesses than the FCPA.  This is due, in part, to the fact that the Bribery Act extends to private as well as government bribery and does not have an exception for “facilitating payments.”  On November 13, 2012, David Green CB QC, who is the Director of the U.K.’s Serious Frauds Office (SFO), gave testimony before the Justice Committee of the House of Commons.  His testimony provides insight into how, under his direction, the SFO may be expected to approach anti-corruption efforts in general, and enforcement of the Bribery Act in particular, especially with regard to self-reporting and deferred prosecution agreements.  In other recent U.K. developments, Scotland’s Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service announced its first-ever civil settlement.  The government reached an agreement with Abbot Group Limited arising out of overseas corrupt payments, and Rolls-Royce plc announced that it had reported to the SFO information with respect to bribery and corruption involving overseas intermediaries.  This article highlights the key take-aways of Green’s testimony that are relevant to anti-bribery enforcement and summarizes the Abbot and Rolls-Royce matters.  For more on the mechanics of the Bribery Act, see “Finding Clarity in the New U.K. Bribery Act,” The FCPA Report, Vol. 1, No. 12 (Nov. 14, 2012).

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