The Sentencing Council's new Sentencing Guidelines for how people convicted of fraud, money laundering and bribery offences should be sentenced came into force in October 2014. The new guidelines apply to all offenders and organisations who are sentenced, regardless of the date of the offence.
In respect of corporate offenders, all three offences, namely, fraud, bribery and money laundering carry potential unlimited fines. In terms of individuals, fraud and bribery carry a maximum sentence of 10 years and money laundering carries a maximum sentence of 14 years.
Fines will be calculated according to a sliding scale depending on culpability, demonstrated by an offending organisation's role and motivation, and the harm, as a financial sum, caused. Lesser culpability offences could attract fines of as low as 20% of the financial harm caused whereas the highest culpability offences can attract fines of up to 400% of the financial harm caused.
Activities likely to make an organisation more culpable include where the organisation has played a leading role in the unlawful activity or wilfully obstructed detection. Bribery prevention measures, which are insufficient to amount to a defence under section 7 of the Bribery Act, will assist in lowering an organisation's culpability, as will guilty pleas and cooperation with investigating and prosecuting authorities.
The court will also consider compensation orders, for loss or damage resulting from the offence, and confiscation orders to seize proceeds of crime. Priority is given to compensation orders above confiscation orders and fines.