Lawyers are calling for Serious Fraud Office (SFO) funding to be guaranteed ahead of tomorrow’s London anti-corruption summit, while the legal and accountancy professions have issued a joint pledge to boost monitoring and enforcement.
The summit, hosted by prime minister David Cameron, will be attended by government officials from around the world.
However lawyers warned that the government must commit funding as well as words of support to bodies that help to tackle corruption.
Stephen Parkinson, head of criminal litigation at London firm Kingsley Napley, said that a spotlight on the issue is not enough to drive out corruption and called on the government to guarantee funding for the SFO.
He said: ‘Without effective resources for law enforcement such high-level political ambition will not be translated into effective investigation and prosecutorial action.’
He said that guaranteeing the recent funding package on a permanent basis would signal its ‘total commitment to fighting corruption on a practical, as well as a rhetorical level’.
Meanwhile, Barry Vitou (pictured), partner and head of global corporate crime at international firm Pinsent Masons, also called for increased funding to ensure law enforcement agencies have the resources to tackle corruption and white-collar crime effectively.
He noted that in the past three years the SFO has had to request almost £80m in additional funds. ‘Corrupt businesses and bribe-seekers have no such limits on their activities,’ he added.
He also encouraged government to give businesses who ‘self-report’ corruption immunity from prosecution in certain limited circumstances and called for cash incentives for whistleblowers.
Meanwhile legal and accountancy bodies, including the Law Society, the Institute of Chartered Accountants and the Society of Trust Estates and Practitioners pledged to continue their work to tackle bribery, corruption, money laundering and tax evasion.
Law Society president Jonathan Smithers said: ‘The UK has a leading role to play in tackling this blight. We already have some of the toughest anti-money laundering rules and the profession of solicitors along with accountants and others stand united against corruption in all forms.’
Michael Izza, chief executive of the ICEAW, said: 'Corruption does not just enrich criminals, it does untold damage to society and business by undermining trust. This is why professional bodies work with national and international regulators and law enforcement to support our members' efforts to combat all forms of financial crime.'