SFO has updated key parts of its guidance on the Bribery Act:

  • facilitation payments: SFO stresses that these payments have always been, and still are, illegal, regardless of their frequency and size. Payments are a bribe if they are paid to facilitate, or speed up, performance of existing duties;
  • hospitality: SFO reminds businesses that bona fide hospitality and promotional and other legitimate business expenditure are a recognised and important way of doing business. However, sometimes bribes can be disguised as legitimate business expenditure; and
  • FAQs: SFO has published a set of questions addressing the changes it has made. In principle, its policy has not changed since the guidance it published when the Bribery Act took effect – the only significant change to its guidance has been to remove a reference to an outdated guide to reporting.

Whether SFO would prosecute under the Bribery Act or under proceeds of crime legislation depends on whether a prosecution would be in the public interest as set out in existing prosecutorial guidelines. (Source: SFO Updates Bribery Act Guidance)