Is the UK's Bribery Act working?

Tuesday 12 February 2013

Customer service

Just eight parties have been sanctioned under the UK's Bribery Act over the last year, it has been revealed.

Big Four professional services firm Ernst & Young said the completed cases yielded penalties of less than £8 million.

The company said this is despite indications that bribery and corruption has risen during the economic downturn.

Some 15 per cent of executives questioned in a recent study said they would contemplate unscrupulous behaviour, including providing personal gifts or cash to secure business.

The Ernst & Young survey also showed that the numbers who felt that providing personal gifts to secure business could be justified more than doubled in two years.

Ernst & Young’s UK Bribery Digest revealed that the Serious Fraud Office completed only four cases in the past year, while the Scottish authorities completed one.

No prosecutions against businesses have yet been made under the Bribery Act – despite the law coming into force 18 months ago.

Jonathan Middup, fraud investigation & dispute partner at Ernst & Young, said there has been "much talk" about a tough regime for bribery enforcement.

However the scale and nature of cases mean businesses have "little evidence" to back this up at the moment.

"In particular, it continues to be a point of debate that there have still been no corporate Bribery Act cases 18 months after the legislation came into force," he stated.

"Businesses feel that an artificial war is being fought at the moment."

Posted by Alex Boardman