Stephen Fox, Senior Partner and head of regulatory crime at Ralli, comments:
“As we learn that GlaxoSmithKline is co-operating with the Serious Fraud Office over a scenario of bribery in China it is perhaps an opportune time for companies trading both abroad and in the UK to review how robust their anti-fraud procedures and internal education is.
It is important that like GSK, UK companies work with the fraud investigation authorities and the sooner the better. The Bribery Act has teeth and it is only a matter of time before prosecutors start flexing their muscles. It may merely be lack of staff and funding that has delayed the UK authorities from bringing actions under the Bribery Act so far save for relatively small matters such as magistrates clerk accepting bribes.
So far larger matters have been dealt with without criminal indictments being raised and pursued. There is a lot of complacency in the commercial world with people hiding behind the myth that they will do no business in a country which has a culture of bribery if they don’t take part or at the very least turn a blind eye to their agent’s activities. If you do fear that you are at serious risk of being prosecuted then you may be well advised to work in harmony with prosecutors but only when you have experienced advisors at your side.”
Stephen Fox can be contacted on 0161 832 6131