FCPA Compliance and Ethics Blog

April 12, 2013

They are back, although they never really left, thebriberyact.com guys

Unlike that fabulous song-writing team of Lennon and McCartney, these two guys promised that they would be back and from what we have seen over the past few weeks, they have kept to their collective word. Yes, those two light-shiners on all things UK Bribery Act, thebriberyact.com guys have re-entered the blogging fray. While I will it to you to figure out which briberyact.com guy most closely corresponds to which song-writer, all I can say is it is hard to say where one’s contribution ends and the others begins. To celebrate their roaring return, I want to highlight some of the great posts that they collectively put up last month.

March 2 – Opinion: Don’t buy snake oil. Why a lack of Bribery Act prosecutions should not signal complacency. The guys begin their comeback last month with this post, which was their take on the status of some investigations and why there has yet to be a substantive prosecution. It is a good explanation of where things have been and where they might be headed. The guys end by noting, “In the meantime the chances of violations of the Bribery Act emerging are increasing with the passage of time. This is borne out in fact. We are aware that the SFO has a number of pre-investigation (or projects as the new Director of the SFO has dubbed them) in connection with the Bribery Act already. Whether these develop into Bribery Act enforcement cases remains to be seen. One thing is for sure. Bribery Act enforcement for corporate violations is inevitable. Those who would suggest otherwise are selling snake oil. Don’t buy it.”

March 3 – The Bribery Act, its material impact since 2011 & the Aston Martin analogyIn this post the guys take on Howard Sklar and everyone else who says it is time to bring an enforcement action under the Bribery Act. They put it as such, “For those seeking instant gratification then the Bribery Act, it turns out, is not Coca Cola. But we’ll stick with the Aston Martin analogy. Aston Martin took off with the arrival of a certain David Brown. The SFO now has David…Green… But on a serious note, the impact of the Bribery Act should not just be measured in enforcement (though that will happen). It’s ultimate purpose was to foster behaviourial change. The genie is out of the bottle, the Aston is out of the garage and 18 months in change is already happening.”

March 5 – Don’t mention the ‘war’? Scotching the myth that saying the ‘b’ word will freak out employees in high risk markets. This post speaks to that most classic of English traits, to apologize for everything English. The guys point out that it is actually OK to tell employees not be pay bribes or otherwise engage in corrupt behavior, you will not insult them by doing so. They properly note, “The sight of people from Head Office taking the trouble to visit the local office with strangers in tow asking lots of questions underscores the importance the business attaches to anti-bribery.  It sends a very clear message to those in the organisation who might seek to apply unfair pressure on others to engage in questionable practices. A clear directive that bribes will not be paid is likewise well received. Employees like to know that they will not be sacked for losing a sale as a result of not bending to improper requests and demands,” they then conclude with this universal truism, “And for the very tiny minority (in our experience) who don’t like it – you don’t want to employ them anyway.” As we might say here in the  south, the American south that is, “Amen, brother.”

March 14 – Parliament report calls for Bribery Act review: Our opinion – Junk in. Junk Out. With typical British tact, the guys skewer a claim presented in the House of Lords committee that the Bribery Act has met with “confusion and uncertainty.” The guys end by offering to help these forlorn Lords with a bit of education by saying, “There is plenty of free guidance out there on the application of the Bribery Act. We cannot think of a piece of legislation which has sparked much more commentary, advisory, much of it on line and completely free, including our own eponymous website. Complaints about a lack of information and desire for more guidance ring hollow – especially when a centerpiece propping up the claim is the concern that taking someone to dinner is a criminal offence. The calls for a review need to be seen in context. Junk in. Junk out. And, Tony from Alderly PLC, if you’re reading feel free to give us a call. We can help you.”

March 22 – (Contrarian) Opinion: Corporate crime in the UK. A shift in public perception? In this piece, the guys noted that “Notwithstanding the barrage of criticism which has been meted out to the SFO in recent months it appears the perception of the public in general may be changing about it, and the UK’s approach to dealing with corporate crime.” They ended this post with the following witty observation, “And, while it may not be politik to say it, (but then we like to be visionary contrarians like others we can think of…), perhaps criticism of the SFO today for historic conduct is just a bit harsh and opportunistic? Perish the thought….”

March 24 – The Met, City of London Police & SOCA spearheading additional £8 million crackdown on overseas corruption. In their final March post  the guys report on some very clear indications that the UK government is putting its money where its collective mouth is regarding its seriousness to combat bribery and corruption. The guys noted that “The UK government has reportedly earmarked a further £8 million in the fight against corruption to go to specialist anti-corruption teams in the Metropolitan and City of London Police, the Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) as well as additional support for the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS).”

So while it is true they never really left, because you know they do practice law for a living; it is good to see them back up on the site and providing their collective opinions and insights.

This publication contains general information only and is based on the experiences and research of the author. The author is not, by means of this publication, rendering business, legal advice, or other professional advice or services. This publication is not a substitute for such legal advice or services, nor should it be used as a basis for any decision or action that may affect your business. Before making any decision or taking any action that may affect your business, you should consult a qualified legal advisor. The author, his affiliates, and related entities shall not be responsible for any loss sustained by any person or entity that relies on this publication. The Author gives his permission to link, post, distribute, or reference this article for any lawful purpose, provided attribution is made to the author. The author can be reached at tfox@tfoxlaw.com.

© Thomas R. Fox, 2013

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