The success of the UK Bribery Act’s ‘failure to prevent’ offence for corporates is proving to be a trigger for plans to broaden the offence to capture all ‘economic crime’ – such as fraud, money laundering and false accounting.
More importantly, this has prompted a major re-think of how corporates should be held liable for crimes committed on their behalf or in their name. This month the UK government has launched a consultation seeking views on reform of the law. Options on the table include:
Broadening the category of people who qualify as the ‘directing mind’ of the company - a key element of the current UK law
Using the ‘failure to prevent’ angle – which is proving successful in the bribery and corruption space, and is soon to be in force for the facilitation of tax evasion
Moving to a strict liability approach familiar from US Federal law.
We will be contributing to the debate – read our briefing here. We’ll be talking with clients over the coming weeks to gather views and opinions so that we can respond to the consultation before the deadline of 24 March. Watch this space.