The Bribery Act 2010 (Bribery Act) came into force on 1st July 2011. Under the Bribery Act an offence is committed by a commercial organisation if a person associated with it bribes another person with the intention of obtaining or retaining business or an advantage in the conduct of business for that organisation.

On 9th October 2012 the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) published revised policies on corporate self-reporting, facilitation payments and business expenditure which will take immediate effect and supersede all previous statements of policy.

Since Bribery regulations were introduced in 2011, there has been concern within corporate organisations as to what constitutes legitimate business expenditure, resulting in many organisations halting all business expenditure on corporate hospitality. This concern has not been eased with the recent announcement that the SFO had withdrawn its previous guidance on the Bribery Act leading to speculation that it would be taking a more aggressive approach to enforcement following the appointment of its new director, David Green QC.

However, the revised policies published by the SFO state that: “bona fide hospitality or promotional or other legitimate business expenditure is recognised as an established and important part of doing business’ and legitimate corporate hospitality should therefore continue to be permitted under the Bribery Act. The SFO have clarified that they will only prosecute those who disguise bribes as business expenditure.

For further information or to seek advice from a lawyer from our commercial team on the Bribery Act, please don’t hesitate to get in contact. Our fraud and business crime defence lawyers can also provide advice if you have been accused of a financial crime by the SFO.

By Debbie King, Commercial Law Solicitor