The Criminal Justice (Corruption Offences) Act 2018 is now in force. One of the most important aspects of the legislation is the introduction of a new corporate corruption offence. The legislation renders a company liable for prosecution where any of its officers, managers, employees, agents or subsidiaries are found to be involved in corruption. The only defence is for the company to show that it took all reasonable steps and exercised all due diligence to prevent such corruption from taking place. The legislation also applies to certain international activities.
Key aspects of the new law include the following:
- New offences of active and passive trading in influence (recommended by GRECO, the Council of Europe anti-corruption body)
- The presumption of corrupt gifts is extended to connected persons (recommended by the Mahon Tribunal)
- The presumption of a corrupt donation is expanded, so that failure to disclose or return a donation will constitute grounds for the presumption to apply (recommended by the Mahon Tribunal)
- New offence of giving a gift, consideration or advantage, knowing that it will be used to commit a corruption offence (recommended by the Mahon Tribunal)
- New offences for creating or using false documents (required by most International Conventions)
- New offence of intimidation where a threat of harm is used instead of a bribe
- New strict liability offence (discussed above), for bodies corporate where any individual connected with the company has been found guilty of corruption. The penalty for the company can be an unlimited fine (recommended by the OECD and by the Mahon Tribunal)
- Provisions for seizure and forfeiture of bribes.
Key steps to prepare for compliance are set out here.