Multinational businesses appear beyond the scope of legislation designed to counter economic crime, an influential committee of MPs has suggested.
In a report published yesterday, the Treasury Select Committee said there is ‘clear evidence’ that legislative reform is required to ‘strengthen the hand of law enforcement’ in the fight against economic crime. ‘We recommend that the government sets out a timetable for bringing forward legislation to improve the enforcement of corporate liability for economic crime. The Serious Fraud Office’s (SFO) suggested reforms should be considered as part of those proposals,’ the report said.
The SFO has previously called for an extension of economic crime offences for corporations under the ‘failure to prevent’ offence. The committee said further consultation should be undertaken and legislation implemented by the next Queen’s speech.
In January 2017, the government published a consultation on corporate liability for economic crime. The call for evidence closed on 31 March 2017 but there has been no follow-up publication yet.
Alison Saunders, partner at magic circle Linklaters and former director of public prosecutions, said the government has for some time been considering legislation which would hold companies criminally liable in instances where they fail to prevent economic crime. The report represents ‘another push for such legislation to move forward’, she said.
Meanwhile, a House of Lords committee tasked with assessing the effectiveness of the Bribery Act 2010 is in the process of drawing up its final report. The committee has held several evidence sessions over the past seven months gathering views from practitioners, judges and prosecutors.
The Gazette understands the report, which is due to be published next week, could include suggestions on the effectiveness of ‘failure to prevent’ and whether deferred prosecution agreements provide a sufficient incentive for businesses to self-report.
Elsewhere, the Treasury select committee’s report is sceptical about the role of the Office for Professional Body Anti-Money Laundering Supervision (OPBAS) – the anti-money laundering (AML) quango.
The committee said it is unclear why OPBAS only supervises the professional body AML supervisors and not the statutory ones. ‘To ensure consistency across all AML supervisors, the government should create a supervisor of supervisors, and there is a strong case for this to be OPBAS,’ the report suggested.