Extending the Bribery Act to cover other economic crimes will have little impact on corporate behaviour in the continuing absence of high-profile and successful enforcement action, corporate lawyers have warned.
The legislation was enacted over three years ago but there has yet to be a corporate prosecution. The Serious Fraud Office attributes this in part to the complexity of cases it handles.
But Neill Blundell (pictured), head of fraud and investigations at Eversheds, told the Gazette: ‘If they try and amend section 7 of the act to include other economic crimes and there has not been a successful prosecution, then I would describe it to clients of mine as an empty threat.’
He added: ‘From a prosecution angle, if you want to sell your message, there is nothing better than a high-profile prosecution.’ Most lawyers questioned by the Gazette were also sceptical about the appeal of US-style deferred prosecution agreements.