A ‘culture of corporate responsibility’ should be introduced from the boardroom down to tackle businesses’ failures to prevent crimes such as tax avoidance and money laundering, the attorney general said today.

Jeremy Wright (pictured) said both corporates and individuals should be held responsible when considering who should be accountable.

Wright told the Cambridge Symposium on Economic Crime that the UK's ‘failure to prevent’ laws had resulted in other jurisdictions holding British companies to account.

Wright said: 'The intention of the government actions … is not only to prosecute and fine for breaches of the law but to promote a culture of corporate responsibility so that we are addressing the threat earlier on and not just reacting to it.'  

Earlier this year the Gazette reported that the Ministry of Justice was hoping to extend the scope of the ‘failure to prevent’ criminal offence beyond tax evasion and bribery to other crimes including money laundering, false accounting and fraud.

Wright said the government would soon be consulting on its plans.

According to Wright, prosecutions under the Bribery Act had encouraged better governance within corporations and that this was something the government would seek to encourage through additional ‘failure to prevent’ offences.

This was necessary because the existing identification doctrine, under which corporate liability for crime is determined, makes it difficult to attribute criminal liability to large corporations where it is not possible to show a ‘controlling mind’, he said.