New legislation has yet to have an impact on bribery enforcement according to Ernst & Young, which says only a handful of cases of bribery and corruption have been completed in the UK in the past year, yielding penalties of less than £8m, reports Harris & Co Accountants Northampton.
According to EY’s UK Bribery Digest, the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) completed only four cases in the past year (two criminal and two civil settlements) while the Scottish authorities also completed a case. No prosecutions against businesses have yet been made under the Bribery Act which came into effect in July 2011.
Jonathan Middup, EY’s fraud investigation & dispute partner and UK leader of anti-bribery and corruption services, said:
‘There has been much talk about a tough regime for bribery enforcement, but the scale and nature of cases mean that 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. Businesses feel that an artificial war is being fought at the moment.’
Middup pointed to findings from the survey which showed that 15% of executives would contemplate unscrupulous behaviour including providing personal gifts or cash to secure business. At the same time the number who felt that providing personal gifts to secure business could be justified more than doubled in two years.
Middup predicted that levels of enforcement are likely to rise over the next twelve months, saying:
‘The SFO has 11 active bribery and corruption cases and a further 18 are under consideration. Given that we are also assisting with a number of issues on behalf of clients we expect that corporate Bribery Act cases will be brought into the public arena this year. Organisations would be unwise to hold back on their compliance programmes just because the courts are currently quiet.’