UK Bribery Act 2010: Has a Revolution in Corporate Governance Begun?
Matteo Grassani, Legal Counsel, BG Italia Power, Italy
On 1st July 2011, the UK Bribery Act 2010 (“Bribery Act) has entered into force , thus paving the way for a new stage in the battle to bribery and corruption. Not only criminal offences already present in the old law have now been reinforced by enhancing sentencing powers for the courts and reaffirming an offence relating to bribery of a foreign public official, but a specific new offence relating to commercial bribery was introduced, in the form of corporate liability for commercial organizations.
In particular, failure of a commercial organization to prevent bribery from being committed on its behalf is now a criminal offence, which may lead to a fine of an unlimited amount. If anyone, falling under the one-size-fits all definition of “associated person” with a commercial organization, bribes another person, then the commercial organization also commits a criminal offence, unless it can prove that it had in place “adequate procedures” designed to prevent the associated persons from committing bribery.
In other words, under the Bribery Act, the company may be found guilty, even if no one within the company knew of the bribery.
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