In the UK, on 9 October 2012, the Serious Fraud Office issued revised statements of policy in relation to, among other matters, how facilitation payments, business hospitality and similar are to be treated for the purposes of the UK Bribery Act 2010.
On business hospitality, the Serious Fraud Squad states that whereas bona fide hospitality or promotional or other legitimate business expenditure is recognised as an established and important part of doing business, “[i]t is also the case, however, that bribes are sometimes disguised as legitimate business expenditure”.
On facilitation payments (also known as "speed" or "grease" payments, that is, unofficial payments or gifts made to public officials to ensure, or perhaps to expedite, the performance of their functions), the Serious Fraud Squad reconfirms that such payments are indeed bribes under UK law, that they were illegal before the coming into force of the Bribery Act and continue to be illegal under the Bribery Act, irrespective of their size or frequency.
Whether or not a bribe presented as hospitality or a facilitation payment will be prosecuted depends on whether there is a realistic prospect of conviction on the evidence, and on the various principles set out by the standard codes in the area of bribery (including the Code for Crown Prosecutors, the Joint Prosecution Guidance of the Director of the SFO and the Director of Public Prosecutions on the Bribery Act 2010 and, where relevant, the Joint Guidance on Corporate Prosecutions.)
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