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Blog : BOARD TALK

Calling All Ostriches: Know The Law On Financial Crime?

Posted on June 27, 2013 at 11:30 AM

What does business know about the implementation of anti-bribery and corruption laws that we lesser mortals don't know ?


There must be something, because if not then businesses large and small have all started to resemble members of the Ostrich Family.


Research in  the latest Anti-Bribery and Corruption Benchmarking Report from Kroll has just revealed that nearly half of global businesses say their bribery and corruption risks have increased in the past two years compared to just 8 % who say their risks have fallen. And let's face it, that 8% sounds deluded.


Not only are anti-bribery laws widening their reach, but they are, indeed being enforced.


Kroll's report, based on research among nearly 300 senior compliance executives from companies across the globe with a median annual revenue of $3.5 bn and more than 9,600 employees, reveals that smaller companies and those headquartered outside the US often still don’t take anti-corruption programmes seriously.


It characterises a polarisation of attitudes to compliance in modern global business: large corporations headquartered in the US that take anti-corruption compliance programmes seriously, and those that are smaller ($1 billion or less in annual revenue) or based outside the US, that worry about bribery and corruption much less.


In the words of one chief audit executive at a smaller financial services company who contributed to the report, “enforcement is weak and takes forever, and nobody goes to jail or is personally financially affected.”


Well, guess what ? Today's FT carries a front page story guaranteed to wake up any slumbering Ostriches in   England and Wales. 


In case you don't have access to FT.com, it says "companies committing financial crimes such as fraud, tax evasion or bribery risk fines as high as 400% of their illegal gains" according to new sentencing proposals for those found guilty in England or Wales. (my emphasis). These guidelines mirror the tough penalties often meted out in the US.


The Sentencing Council of England and Wales (which sounds very Dickensian) is to consider these guidelines, and if passed they will give England and Wales "one of the toughest regimes in the world for companies convicted of wrongdoing" says the FT.


I wonder what it will do for the sale of residential property at the best addresses in London. 




Categories: Scrutiny, Accountability, Transparency