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Money laundering, bribery and corporate liability

29th Sep 2021
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Although there are no exact figures there is a realistic possibility that the scale of money laundering impacting the UK annually is in the hundreds of billions of pounds.”

That quote from the National Crime Agency’s website starkly underlines the importance of anti-money-laundering training across UK businesses. [1] And whilst finance, accounting, legal and property businesses may be on the front line of the fight against money laundering, every organisation should be aware of the potential for their business to be negatively impacted by illegal practices.

Those practices are not confined to money-laundering activities. The Bribery Act celebrated its tenth birthday in July 2021. Amongst other measures that Act instigated a new offence which could be committed by commercial organisations which “fail to prevent persons associated with them from bribing another person on their behalf.” In order to defend against such an offence the organisation had to prove that it had adequate procedures in place.

Interestingly, in the summer of 2021 the law commission undertook a review of corporate criminal liability [2]; seeking to identify how the law could be improved in order to “appropriately capture and punish criminal offences committed by corporations, and their directors or senior management.” That review is due to report by the end of the year. Pending the outcome of the review there are three key areas in which organisations act now in order to ensure that they are complying with the relevant laws?

Risk appraisal. Organisations should start by undertaking a full review to establish the potential for negative actions, before going on to identify what can be done to minimise the risk. It’s a process which should be followed not simply for anti money-laundering and bribery measures but also in other areas in which there is potential for the organisation and its officers to commit an offence. In order to minimise the chance of complacency it might be appropriate to call in an outside agency to run the appraisal.[3]

Policy development. Following the review, appropriate policies and procedures should be put in place. These may include a statement of ethics, personal behavioural expectations, and the requirement for certain contracts or procedures to be independently reviewed within the organisation before being signed off.

Training. Policies are only as good as the publicity they receive so the final step is to provide awareness training for your people. There are a number of external materials available here which could help with training. For example, the City of London police commissioned a set of short videos to publicise the Bribery Act. [4] The first of these, “Consequences begin at home,” demonstrates how a simple decision can impact individuals, their family, and their organisations.

[1] https://www.nationalcrimeagency.gov.uk/what-we-do/crime-threats/money-laundering-and-illicit-finance

[2] https://www.lawcom.gov.uk/law-commission-seek-views-on-corporate-criminal-liability/

[3] https://www.elementalcosec.com/2021/08/27/the-bribery-act-2010-happy-10th-birthday/

[4] https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/bribery-act-2010-guidance

 

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