The SFO has published a series of speeches by Richard Alderman, which were given in Russia, Norway and Belgium. The speeches discuss the Bribery Act and the implications that the Act will have for foreign companies when it comes into force.
Key points raised by Mr Alderman include:
- Under the Bribery Act there is an extended jurisdictional reach which will bring foreign corporations in certain circumstances within the jurisdiction of the SFO. To trigger the extended jurisdiction rules, a foreign corporation needs to be carrying on business or part of its business in the UK.
- As regards hospitality and entertaining expenditure, Mr Alderman considered normal expenditure in buying meals for clients or prospective clients as being perfectly acceptable, as is taking them to sporting events. It is also lawful to take people from one country to another to show them, for example, the company's facility in that other country if that is the best way of demonstrating to them what the company can do. It is only when the hospitality becomes excessive or lavish that the SFO start to think about whether or not what is being paid actually amounts to a bribe.
- Another issue concerns facilitation payments. They are unlawful in the UK and the position will not change under the Bribery Act. The OECD has called on member countries to be more vigorous in their attack on these payments.
- The SFO has offered to talk to companies about their procedures. There has been a lot of interest in this and many companies have come forward. They have found the dialogue to be practical, realistic and helpful. Foreign corporations have also been interested to gain a better understanding of the impact that the extended jurisdiction is likely to have on them and whether they are doing enough to develop a true anti-corruption culture.