The U.K.'s Bribery Act More Stringent than the FCPA?

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Many U.S. companies are familiar with the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act of 1977 ("FCPA"), which imposes criminal and civil liability for bribery of foreign government officials, as well as other potential liabilities. Many U.S. companies have responded to increased enforcement of the FCPA by putting in place procedures and policiesmeant to monitor compliance and minimize the likelihood of a violation. The United Kingdom has recently introduced an anti-bribery law even more rigorous than the FCPA with criminal and civil enforcement, which will be enforced starting April 2011. The U.K.Bribery Act of 2010 is not only strict, it also has wide territorial application. Because the U.K. Bribery Act applies to U.S. companies that conduct business in the U.K., many U.S. companies will be forced to address compliance with this law.

The U.K.'s Bribery Act of 2010 replaces the U.K.'s previous anti-bribery laws, including the Prevention of Corruption Acts of 1889-1916. The U.K. Bribery Act makes it an offense to both offer and to receive a bribe. A person may have liability for offering or receiving a bribe even if the bribery does not take place in the U.K., and even if the function of the bribe has no connection to the U.K. The Act requires only that the person committing the bribery has a "close connection" to the U.K. The definition of persons with a close connection to the U.K. includes British citizens, British nationals living overseas, persons that are ordinarily resident in the U.K., and companies incorporated under the laws of the U.K.

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