The UK Government has published its annual update on its anti-corruption strategy. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the update emphasises the UK’s long-term commitment to anti-corruption in the context of the UK’s future outside of the EU. While there is reference to domestic matters, the focus is on the UK’s role on the world stage and its relationships with overseas partners.
The outward looking agenda includes:
· ensuring the ongoing integrity of the UK as a global financial centre, including through greater sharing of information;
· rethinking how to achieve transparency in public procurement as the UK manages the transition away from the EU-regulated regime (with hints of an appetite for simpler rules);
· grasping the “unique opportunity” offered by Brexit to strengthen the UK’s international standing, including by offering assistance to countries looking to improve standards on integrity (see the UK’s support for transparency initiatives in Kenya, Pakistan, Mexico and Nigeria); and
· the need for continued international cooperation as the UK becomes an independent trading nation. Though there is limited detail on how this is to be achieved, the update highlights 11 investigations being pursued by the International Anti-Corruption Co-ordination Centre.
The update highlights successes including the UK’s progression up the ranks of the Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index from joint 10th to joint 8th place. The update also points to the encouraging progress that has been made on many of the strategy’s 134 commitments.
There is, however, no sign of the government’s long awaited response to the Call for Evidence on Corporate Criminal Liability for economic crime (which opened on 13 January 2017). Uncertainty as to the shape of any potential future reform in this area will continue into the new year – but corporates should keep an eye out in the first half of 2019, when the response is expected to be published.
Indeed, the Government characterises 2018 as a year of “laying the groundwork” for actions – and impacts – in future years, so expect more to come.