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Law Gazette

Not a single prosecution since the Bribery Act came into place two years ago

In 2008/09, the SFO (Serious Fraud Office) budget was estimated to be more than 53 million pounds. The 2012/13 annual report shows that this number has decreased considerably in the last few years, with a budget of £32.2m in 2012/13 and £30.8m expected in 2014.

Many lawyers have questioned whether the cuts to the SFO budget have made it more difficult to enforce the new Bribery Act 2011. Statistics appear to support this notion: a freedom of information request has shown that no matters have yet to lead to prosecution under the new legislation, with only three new matters under investigation.

On the other hand, the SFO currently has nine ongoing investigations that pre-date the new legislation.

Aaron Stephens, a partner in financial crime and investigations at city law firm Berwin Leighton Paisner, asserted that “With extremely complicated and difficult to prove activity going on, a prosecutor needs adequate resources to tackle it, otherwise they are fighting a losing battle.”

Barry Vitou, co-author of a website dedicated to the Bribery Act and head of the corporate crime team at city firm Pinsent Masons, said that the SFO “will remain cash-strapped day to day and will become increasingly pressured to visibly enforce the act now the law has had its second birthday”.

The city of London police is investigating around 25 individual cases of bribery, in combination with the SFO.

 

Sources

'Bribery Act lying dormant, SFO admits', John Hyde, The Law Gazette, 22/07/2013

 

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