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EU UPDATE: UK "FCPA" Comes Into Force

The UK Bribery Act 2010 comes into force on 1 July 2011 following the publication, at the end of March, of detailed guidelines and intended effects of the Act.  In addition separate prosecution guidelines have been published by the Serious Fraud Office which explain when prosecutions are likely. Both documents are of central importance given the very wide scope of coverage of the Act.

Under the Act any commercial organisation (with a presence in the UK) is guilty of an offence if a person associated with it bribes another person anywhere in the world, intending to obtain or retain business or a business advantage for the organisation.

A "person associated" clearly covers an employee or agent but could also include a sub-contractor - even one operating without a formal direct contractual relationship. Organisations will have a partial defence if they can show that they had in place adequate procedures designed to prevent bribery.

Internationally the UK has a poor reputation for prosecutions of FCPA type offences.  The Act is designed to put this right in terms of the legal regime.  Undoubtedly what is now expected is some form of concerted effort to translate these new provisions into a series of high-profile successful prosecutions and convictions

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