The Financial Services Authority ("FSA") issued its largest fine to date to the insurance broker Willis Limited. The fine of £6.895 million was as a result of the company’s failing to ensure payments made to overseas third parties were not used for corrupt purposes.

The FSA said in a statement that the company, a unit of the world’s third-largest insurance broker Willis Group Holdings, had created an “unacceptable risk” that payments of £27 million, between 2005 and 2009, to overseas third parties who had assisted the company in winning and retaining business could have been used for corrupt purposes.

The FSA reported that the company had failed to establish and record an “adequate commercial rationale to support its payments", nor did it ensure due diligence was performed with foreign clients, or evaluate the risks of doing business with them.

Durnig its investigation, the FSA identified a number of suspicious payments totalling $227,000, which the company made to two overseas third parties in respect of business carried out in Egypt and Russia. Tracey McDermott, the FSA’s acting director of enforcement and financial crime, said “the involvement of UK financial institutions in corrupt or potentially corrupt practices overseas undermines the integrity of the UK financial services sector.”

Willis Limited cooperated with the FSA from an early stage of the investigation. As a result, the company received a 30 percent discount on its fine under the FSA’s settlement discount scheme, which would have otherwise been £9.85 million.