OECD REPORT ON THE SFO AND THE BRIBERY ACT
The OECD Working Group On Bribery highlighted the efforts the UK in the anti-corruption area in a most recent report (here). That Report also contains a number of recommendations for future improvements.
The Working Group concluded that the SFO and other relevant law enforcement agencies have significantly increased foreign bribery enforcement. The Group commended the UK for publishing its Guidance to Commercial Organizations. The UK government has made what the Report calls â€œsubstantial effortsâ€ to raise awareness of the Bribery Act. Those efforts and the publicity surrounding the new Bribery Act have led to a heightened awareness of these issues in the UK. The Group commended the approach of the UK in requiring companies to compensate the country of a bribed official.
The OECD Working Group also made a series of recommendations. Those include:
- Maintaining the current role of the SFO;
- Reconsidering the SFOâ€™s policy of systematically settling self-reporting foreign bribery cases civilly whenever possible and taking steps to ensure that in these cases there are proportionate and effective sanctions;
- Making public, where appropriate, as much information as possible about settlement agreements;
- Avoiding confidentiality agreements which prevent the disclosure of key information about settled cases;
- Clarifying guidance on what constitutes â€œreasonable and proportionateâ€ hospitality and promotional expenditures, including the reference to industry norms;
- Continuing to provide evidence to other countries after settlements where appropriate;
- Developing firm criteria for assessing if companies are moving toward â€œzero toleranceâ€ of facilitation payments;
- The SFOâ€™s process of â€œgiving advice to companies and accepting self-reports of wrongdoing also needs to be more transparent and better defined;â€
- On corporate monitors, providing guidance regarding when and under what terms one would be sought; and
- On public procurement, â€œconsider undertaking a systematic approach to allow relevant agencies to easily access information on companies sanctioned for corruption such as through the establishment of a national debarment register. . . â€
The Working Group plans to follow up on certain issues including those related to guidance under the Bribery Act, facilitation payments and settlements.