The UK Anti-Corruption Plan, published on 18 December 2014 by HM Government is both thorough and ambitious. If even half the action points (there are 66) are implemented all UK companies, partnerships and organisations should digest the Plan as soon as possible. A similar UK Anti-Money Laundering Plan is due to follow. The main “highlights” are;
- No. 6 – creating a new single reporting mechanism for Anti-Bribery and Corruption by July 2015
- No. 8 – Home Office/BIS to consider what more can be done to “Incentivise and support” whistle blowers. Note, the US Dodd-Frank Act allows for up to 30% of the total monetary sanction to be paid to the whistleblower.
- No. 22/23 – European Public Procurement Directives – updates the grounds for mandatory/discretionary exclusion - implementation/planned transposition into English law in the first quarter of 2015 with a register of Excluded Suppliers being considered to be introduced by August 2015
- No. 36 – The Ministry of Justice is considering a new criminal offence of “corporate failure to prevent economic crime” – establishing corporate criminal liability more widely – by June 2015 (replacing the Identification Doctrine where, save for Bribery and Corruption and s.7 UKBA which introduced the concept of corporate failure or vicarious liability and the defence of adequate procedures, the prosecution had to establish that the directing minds of the company were involved in the criminal acts)
- No. 37 – a new central bribery and corruption unit within NCA – potentially removing some of the workload from the Serious Fraud Office
- No. 38 – National Crime Agency (NCA): implement a programme to improve the recruitment and retention of specialists to support compliance investigations
- No. 42 – The Treasury/Home Office to complete a National Risk Assessment on Money Laundering & Terrorist Financing (by early 2015) with no. 43 – an Anti-Money Laundering Plan subsequently issued
- No. 45 – Home Office to review the (AML) Suspicious Activity Regime to better identify money laundering and improve quality and timeliness of reporting money laundering
- Nos. 46/47 – Home Office: The Proceeds of Crime Act to be amended to enhance investigative powers and to change the legal test for a criminal “restraint order” from “reasonable grounds” to “suspicion” in both domestic/international cases making it much easier for the criminal authorities to restrain what it suspects to be criminal assets at the beginning of an investigation
- No. 50 – BIS: implement a central register (at Companies House) of UK Company beneficial ownership – with criminal penalties where companies fail to provide such/false information
- No. 53/54 – NCA: to drive corrupt legal/financial professionals out of the system with a Serious Crime Bill drafted including, amongst other things, an offence of participation in activities of an Organised Crime Group (with a maximum 5 years sentence)
- No. 64 – UK to produce its first Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative report by April 2016 and has implemented the EU Accountancy Directive which provides that extractive companies will be required to report on payments made to Governments (in excess of £86,000 in any one year) from 1 January 2015
- No. 65 – the Cabinet Office is to establish cross-departmental unit on international corruption – providing support to the Government Anti-Corruption Tsar from December 2014.
Incentivising whistle blowers, requiring UK companies to give details of their ultimate beneficial owners by registering details at Companies House and, extending potential corporate liability (where the only defence would be the implementation of adequate procedures) for all forms of economic crime which could include; fraud, conspiracy to defraud, cheating the Revenue, evasion of Duty/VAT, corruption, sanctions abuses, money laundering, and theft of data and confidential information could have a dramatic impact upon conducting business in the UK.
A great deal of detail lies beneath these headlines and we are very happy to assist you to understand the ramifications of these actions.