Bribery & Money Laundering
The Bribery Act 2010 has had a dramatic impact on the criminal exposure of corporations, partnerships and senior personnel that do business in the UK.
Behaviours are changing necessarily so, as companies and individuals found guilty of any of the offences under the Bribery Act will be liable for significant, potentially unlimited, fines. Individuals will also be liable to a term of imprisonment up to a maximum of 10 years.
Companies are responsible not only for the activities of their employees, but also of their agents and affiliates. Enhanced, risk-based, due-diligence is required to meet the exacting demands of the new ABC environment. We understand that a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach doesn’t work for entities of different sizes and risk-profiles. We offer a bespoke service.
Drystone Chambers has worked with a number of firms and businesses to design and implement compliance programmes to avoid the need for an emergency response and corporate investigation. Members of Chambers run seminars and workshops in the UK and internationally, notably in East Africa where the Great Lakes Basin oil and gas finds have given rise to a host of challenging issues, on the benefits of compliance.
A thoroughly "joined-up" approach is crucial to a successful corporate compliance regime. That is, anti-bribery controls and anti-money laundering compliance should form part of the same ethos of good governance for any company
In 2002, the Government introduced legislation that effectively transferred the burden of policing money laundering from the state to the financial sector. Obligations to report suspicious activity under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 together with a number of new offences set out to intimidate both the money launderer and the institutions within whose embrace he was thought to be hiding.
Regulations followed in 2003, to be replaced in 2007 by yet more demands upon an increasingly beleaguered sector. Now the 4th Money Laundering Directive look set to alter the landscape once again.
The directive adds to and complicates existing regulations and builds upon the now familiar risk based approach. There are obvious anomalies, for example, provisions contemplating a discretion by individual countries to permit simplification of due diligence (following an evidence based assessment) within their jurisdiction are likely to lead to a divergence of approaches for different sectors in different countries across Europe. The proposals will certainly add to the already onerous data processing obligations on institutions and firms. The Law Society advises that the removal of specific simplification provisions for lawyers' client accounts could also result in disproportionate data processing by financial institutions and undermine client confidentiality.
Whether any of this will make a substantial difference to efforts to counter organised crime and terrorism is open to question. Likewise, the changes wrought by the Serious Crime Act 2015 to induce "consequence free" reporting are hardly likely to enhance relationships between business, and their advisers.
We at Drystone Chambers have been advising upon these often sensitive matters since the inception of AML regulation. We have provided training, compliance reviews and advice to a large number of law firms, banks and institutions. Our service to the regulated sector extends beyond compliance strategies to encompass first class advice and trouble-shooting when challenging situations arise, as they frequently do.
We too like to know our client, and look to build long-term relationships that mean we can provide the most constructive advice in the most testing circumstances.