Bribery begins at Home

Two recent anti-corruption enforcement actions in the U.K. are a reminder of how readily the UK’s anti-corruption laws can apply to people who are not ordinarily based here.

On 10 August, the National Crime Agency arrested the Chief of Staff of the President of Madagascar along with another man who is a French national. The next day they were charged with requesting a bribe contrary to the Bribery Act 2010 and made their first appearance in court on 12 August. They are due to appear again on 8 September. The offences are alleged to have taken place at a meeting in London where the two are alleged to have sought significant cash payments as well as an equity stake in a mining project in Madagascar in return for the award of licences.

The second example comes from the decision announced by the UK’s National Crime Agency on 22 August to charge a former Nigerian Minister for Oil with the offence of receiving bribes under the Bribery Act. The press release states:

She is alleged to have benefitted from at least £100,000 in cash, chauffeur driven cars, flights on private jets, luxury holidays for her family, and the use of multiple London properties.

Her charges also detail financial rewards including furniture, renovation work and staff for the properties, payment of private school fees, and gifts from high-end designer shops such as Cartier jewellery and Louis Vuitton goods”.

The allegation is that the former Minister “accepted financial rewards for awarding multi-million pound contracts”. As yet no enforcement action has been announced against the entity or entities that paid the alleged bribes. Such enforcement actions can be anticipated.

Most of the UK’s anti-corruption enforcement actions to date have involved British nationals or companies incorporated here. These recent enforcements are a reminder that the jurisdiction of the UK’s criminal courts extends to situations where actions constituting part of the offence take place in the territory of the UK. This need be no more than the receipt of a corrupt payment or other benefit in the UK. That was the position in R v Tumukunde (2008) where the only UK nexus was the receipt of a bribe into a UK bank account.

© 2009- Duane Morris LLP. Duane Morris is a registered service mark of Duane Morris LLP.

The opinions expressed on this blog are those of the author and are not to be construed as legal advice.

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