In recent years, the UK Government has sought to move away from punishing corporate financial mismanagement by using administrative sanctions and has instead chosen to use the power of the criminal justice system to improve standards of corporate governance by pursuing criminal prosecutions against those who engage in corrupt business practices.
As a consequence, the number of criminal convictions for financial crimes has shown a marked increase in recent times. Our Criminal Defence Team specialises in providing legal representation in relation to all types of financial crime, and is dedicated to providing our clients with the best possible defence.
In order to pursue prosecutions for financial crimes such as bribery and corruption, the Government has employed the services of specially trained lawyers with experience in handling complex financial cases. There are significant consequences for individuals or businesses found guilty of committing such offences, including heavy financial penalties, substantial prison sentences, removal of assets, a criminal record and irreparable damage to their business and reputation. Enforcement authorities have substantial powers when it comes to investigating financial crime cases, including the powers to arrest, detain, and interview individuals under caution, as well as powers to search premises and seize documents, and use compelled interviews. For those accused of crimes related to bribery and corruption, it is vital that they have access to the best legal advice in order to conduct a robust defence to any charges made against them. The Financial Crime Solicitors at Wilford Smith have the required skills, knowledge and determination to ruthlessly develop a top level strategy on their client’s behalf, ensuring the best outcome in any case.
What is bribery and corruption?
Business practices related to bribery and corruption are dealt with under the Bribery Act 2010, which defines such practices as offering or accepting a “financial or other advantage” to or from someone in exchange for “improperly” performing a “relevant function or activity”. In practice, this will often mean that an individual has attempted to influence someone in a position to make important decisions by offering them a benefit, either money or some other enticement, beyond what can legitimately be offered in the normal course of business. This covers business activity taking place in the private sector as well as business involving public officials, and also business activities taking place outside the UK. The Act also makes it an offence to attempt to bribe a foreign public official in order to gain a business advantage.
For those found guilty of participating in bribery, a maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment has been introduced. The Act also creates a new offence of failing to prevent bribery so that a business can be charged if a person connected with that business is found to have engaged in bribery, and the organisation cannot show that it had in place adequate procedures to prevent this bribery from happening. Businesses found guilty of this offence can be subject to an unlimited fine as a consequence.
How does the Bribery Act affect my business?
The Bribery Act deals only with bribery, it does not cover other types of white collar crime. If another person who acts for your business engages in bribery on behalf of your business, you may be liable for failing to prevent them from doing so. In general, this will only happen if the person is clearly conducting business on your behalf. If that person was, for example, only responsible for supplying goods to your business then it would be very unlikely that you would be held liable for their actions.
If a person who is clearly conducting business on your behalf is found guilty of a bribery offence, you will have a full defence if you can demonstrate that you had in place adequate procedures to prevent bribery from happening. Providing hospitality in the course of attracting business is not prohibited by the Bribery Act.
The legal specialists in criminal defence at Wilford Smith are experts in advising on all aspects of financial crime, including bribery and corruption, and can provide invaluable legal advice to anyone operating a business, whatever the size.
Our team is able to advise businesses and corporate bodies in relation to the “adequate procedures” required under the Bribery Act to prevent bribery and corruption by employees or other persons connected to your business, and the carrying out of internal investigations if you believe someone connected with your business has been involved in such practices.
For individuals and businesses subject to formal criminal investigations, we are able to provide representation for those attending interviews under caution or interviews under compulsion, representation in court proceedings and can provide guidance on managing risks to reputation resulting from regulatory investigations or prosecutions. Our Financial Crime Solicitors are able to take instruction from employees who are subject to internal investigation by their employer to advise on any potential criminal consequences, as well as those who have been approached to act as witnesses in bribery and corruption investigations. Wilford Smith’s experienced Criminal Defence Solicitors, with expert knowledge and skills in representing clients in relation to financial crimes, are committed to providing you with a high-level service by taking a ruthless approach to developing a top level strategy, ensuring the best possible outcome in any case.
Contact our Financial Crime Solicitors Sheffield and London
Wilford Smith’s Criminal Defence Team takes pride in its reputation for unique representation, giving clients a service that is exceptionally strategic and results driven, and is able to attract the highest calibre barristers to provide support when necessary. Financial crime is an extremely complex area of law, but with years of experience in handing the most complex financial cases on behalf of our clients, we are best placed to advise you on regulatory issues, bring and defend claims on your behalf and conduct your defence in court where necessary. We know how distressing a criminal investigation can be and will ensure that you are given sympathetic, straightforward advice as part of our client focused and highly personal service.
Contact our specialist Financial Crime Team today on 0808 169 5677 to find out how we can help.