On August 14, 2013, the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) charged three British nationals with offenses under the UK Bribery Act 2010. This is the first Bribery Act prosecution brought by the SFO. While it is impossible to discern a pattern from one action, this prosecution may indicate the beginning of active enforcement by the SFO. This interpretation is consistent with the uncompromising, prosecution-led stance favored by the current Director of the SFO, David Green.
THE CHARGES -
The SFO charged the former CEO and Financial Controller of an investment company specializing in investments in “sustainable” products, as well as an Independent Financial Advisor associated with the company, with “making and accepting a financial advantage contrary to Section 1(1) and 2(1) of the Bribery Act 2010.” Section 1 of the Bribery Act criminalizes bribery of any person. Section 2 criminalizes accepting bribes. The bribery-related charges were brought in addition to charges of conspiracy to commit fraud by false representation and to furnish false information in connection with the promotion and selling of “bio fuel” investment products to UK investors. As can be seen in this prosecution, the Bribery Act was designed to bolster and complement existing criminal laws. The combination of offenses in this case serves as a timely reminder that bribery offenses frequently occur in tandem with other acts of dishonesty and wrongdoing.
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