Worldwide anti-corruption initiatives — a comparison of UK and US legislation

The UK’s Bribery Act (the Bribery Act), which came into force on 1 July 2011, was supplemented by guidance issued by the UK Ministry of Justice aimed at helping commercial organisations understand the types of procedures they could put into place to prevent bribery. Other guidance relating to the Bribery Act has also been published, such as the “Joint Prosecution Guidance” of the Director of the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) and the Director of Public Prosecutions, the SFO’s recent revised guidance on the Act and Transparency International’s “Adequate Procedures Guide”.

By contrast, they key piece of long-standing anti-bribery legislation in the US has come with little official guidance until very recently. In November 2012, the US Department of Justice (DOJ) and the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) issued a joint “Resource Guide to the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act” (the Guide). The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) was enacted as far back as 1977 and is aimed at combating the bribery of foreign officials. Unlike its predecessor, the much less detailed “Lay Person’s Guide to the FCPA”, this new Guide is intended to provide a comprehensive review of the US government’s position on enforcement under the FCPA and its expectations of corporate compliance procedures. Although it is not binding, the Guide will serve as a useful resource for companies faced with the challenge of complying with the FCPA.

This article provides a general comparison of the Bribery Act and the FCPA, in light of the new FCPA Resource Guide. It will be of relevance to corporates trading internationally, who may find they have to comply with both statutes…

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