July 21, 2010
Monique Perry Danziger, +1 202 293 0740 ext. 222
WASHINGTON, DC—The delay of implementation of the UK Bribery Act until April 2011 is a setback to international anti-corruption and economic development efforts in the world’s poorest countries. UK officials announced today that the bill, adopted in April, would not be put into effect for another six months.
“There has already been rigorous consultation and debate over this bill,” said GFI director Raymond Baker. “Our fear is that we’ll see a weaker form of the law put into effect when it reemerges in six months time.”
As drafted now, the law resembles the United States’ Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), which forbids companies doing business abroad to make payments to foreign officials or politicians for a corrupt purpose. American prosecutors have extracted fines of hundreds of millions of dollars to settle cases under the FCPA, although watchdog groups argue enforcement could be better.
The UK Bribery Act, however, is more comprehensive. Unlike the FCPA, the UK Bribery Act criminalizes “facilitation payments” made for routine governmental actions and outlaws bribery between private companies.
The UK Bribery Act also holds companies accountable for the actions of associated persons, including anyone “who performs services for or on behalf” of the company. To escape liability, commercial entities would have to implement “adequate procedures” to prevent bribery within their endeavors.
“This delay is a set-back to efforts to stamp out corruption in developing countries and a direct blow to poverty-alleviation and human rights efforts around the world,” said Baker. “We can only hope that this is a temporary set-back and that the UK proceeds with implementation of this bill as it has been designed and with no further alteration in its structure or mandate.”