Business Crime & Fraud
Bribery & corruption
"Corker Binning is a first class firm. It is large enough to take on the most challenging and document-heavy cases but, by not getting too big, they have preserved the personal touch of a much smaller firm and always have wonderful attention to detail"
Legal 500 UK 2021
Bribery and corruption is a practice area that has seen significant change over the past two decades.
The Bribery Act 2010 marked a major development in UK law, multiplying the ways in which individuals can commit criminal offences in the private and public sectors, and introducing an offence of corporate criminal liability. These offences operate extraterritorially, which means that certain individuals and companies can be prosecuted for conduct that occurred overseas. Prosecutions have taken place in relation to bribery in all industry sectors and even where the bribes, or the value of the business at stake, is relatively small.
Partly in response to the Bribery Act 2010, and partly in response to the subsequent introduction of deferred prosecution agreements into UK law, companies are now routinely investigating themselves and self-reporting wrongdoing to the UK’s law enforcement authorities. The development of corporate self-reporting, and the perceived need for the corporate to cooperate with law enforcement, means that directors and employees of major multinational companies are more exposed than ever before to allegations of bribery and corruption. That exposure may first arise in a corporate internal investigation (where the director or employee is asked to attend an interview conducted by the company’s lawyers). Alternatively, it may arise with an arrest and/or interview conducted by law enforcement (such as an interview under caution).
We have substantial experience of advising both suspects and witnesses in bribery and corruption investigations. The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) or National Crime Agency (NCA) (through its International Corruption Unit (ICU)) typically take the lead in these investigations, with assistance from the police and others through the National Economic Crime Command (NECC).
Nearly all of these investigations have an international dimension. For example, we are currently working on a number of joint investigations in which the UK agency has partnered with their counterparts in the US, Canada, Brazil, Australia and France. We routinely work with trusted foreign lawyers to ensure that our clients’ interests are protected in all jurisdictions in which they face criminal exposure.
- Acting for senior company individuals in the SFO’s investigations into alleged bribery and corruption at Glencore, Rolls-Royce, British American Tobacco, Amec Foster Wheeler, ENRC, Petrofac, Rio Tinto, Unaoil, Airbus, Glaxo Smith Kline and Alstom, including a director in the first SFO prosecution of individuals under the Bribery Act 2010.
- Acting for an individual acquitted in the SFO’s first successful prosecution of a corporate for bribery offences.
- Acting for senior individuals (including the CEO of the London branch of a foreign bank) in NCA investigations concerning alleged bribery and corruption arising in a number of West African states.
- Acting for an international engineering firm to carry out an internal investigation into allegations of attempts made to offer bribes in return for the award of contracts.
- Acting for individuals in the police investigations into the payment of alleged bribes to police officers and others, including Operation Weeting.