Richard Alderman, Director of the SFO, says he will use the Bribery Act to tackle corrupt foreign companies as the SFO’s top priority. UK plc should welcome this news as the SFO tries to create a level playing field so UK companies can conduct global business without being met by unfair competition through corruption.

In an interview with the Financial Times yesterday, Alderman asked for salary increases to stop current SFO staff defecting to go in-house or act as corporate criminal defence lawyers. Whilst the SFO cannot compete with the likes of the FSA and OFT in terms of the salaries paid, does it really need a massive staff? Alderman has been very clever in delivering a message that the SFO intends to detect bribery and corruption through a network of whistleblowers including disgruntled employees and counterparties who feel that they may, for example, have lost out on a tender to a competitor who won the business through bribery.

The SFO says it is not interested in corporate hospitality – that is a red herring. Alderman is not concerned by an event at Twickenham: instead he is interested in calculated bribes to win or retain business. Being able to call upon the expertise of the City of London Police and the criminal bar, the SFO only needs a team of anti-bribery and corruption specialists to investigate cases and prepare them for trial.