Failing to prevent the commission of economic crimes will likely be made a corporate offence. In May 2016 the government announced that it would publish a consultation paper in the summer regarding its goal of expanding the scope of these types of offence to include other economic crimes, such as money laundering, false accounting and fraud.

The then Justice Minister Dominic Raab said that the government wants to consider carefully whether the evidence justifies any further extension of the Section 7 Bribery Act model to other areas of economic crime, "so that large corporations are properly held to account".

To date, the government's promised consultation has not occurred. However, an extension of the law in this area was referred to by Attorney General Jeremy Wright QC at the Cambridge Symposium on Economic Crime on September 5 2016. The attorney general discussed the prime minister's intention to "get tough on irresponsible behaviour in big business" and tackle vested interests through the development of a cross-government anti-corruption strategy to complement the existing Serious and Organised Crime Strategy.

The attorney general referred to the benefits of the Bribery Act and deferred prosecution agreements in regards to strengthening the United Kingdom's response to corruption, but noted that the government hopes to do more and improve the United Kingdom's reputation by making corporates' failure to prevent economic crime an offence. The attorney general noted that, until such a change is implemented, there is little chance of board members taking any action other than distancing themselves from company operations.

For further information on this topic please contact Kathleen Harris, Stuart Baker, Michael J Atkinson or James McSweeney at Arnold & Porter LLP by telephone (+44 20 7786 6100) or email (kathleen.harris@aporter.com, stuart.baker@aporter.com, michael.atkinson@aporter.com or james.mcsweeney@aporter.com). The Arnold & Porter website can be accessed at www.arnoldporter.com.

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