SFO’s Green acts to end fears of bribery charges over hospitality

| September 2, 2012 | 0 Comments

Dan Atkinson

16:05 EST, 1 September 2012


03:02 EST, 2 September 2012

Entertaining clients at events such as the London Olympics will not lead to companies being prosecuted under the Bribery Act, according to the new head of the Serious Fraud Office.

Fears of breaching tough new rules led to businesses holding back from taking clients to some of this year’s top sporting events.

But the agency responsible for enforcing the act has said it does not consider mainstream corporate entertaining to be part of its watch.

The London 2012 Olympic Stadium

Relief: Entertaining clients at events such as the London Olympics will not lead to companies being prosecuted under the Bribery Act

SFO chief David Green said: ‘We are not interested in that sort of case. We are interested in hearing that a large company has mysteriously come second in bidding for a big contract. The sort of bribery we would be investigating would not be tickets to Wimbledon or bottles of champagne. We are not the “serious champagne office”.’

His remarks will come as a relief to Britain’s multi-billion pound hospitality industry, much of whose revenues come from corporate entertaining. They will be welcomed, too, by organisers of the summer season’s major sporting events, such as Ascot, Henley and Wimbledon, to whom business hospitality is hugely important.

Green, who took over the SFO in April, said the agency would not be issuing guidance on the Act. ‘We are investigators and prosecutors. We are not here to offer advice, to preach or to make moral judgments. I am not on a crusade.’ He added: ‘There is oodles of guidance out there.’

He criticised American law firms that had taken advantage of the uncertainty. ‘It is in their interest to focus attention on the Bribery Act. They put up talking heads and arrange conferences. It is a huge industry.’

Green added: ‘We have some Bribery Act investigations in the pipeline. They have a tendency to sprawl. They need to be kept focused.’

In terms of prosecutions, he said: ‘I am not going to rush for glory on this. I want the right case at the right time.’ He added that a few well chosen cases could help clarify the law.

The Act, which came into force last year, is one of the toughest in any country and makes it an offence to pay or accept bribes anywhere in the world. A company has a defence if it can show it put in place procedures to prevent such corrupt behaviour.

Overall, hospitality is Britain’s fifth-largest industry and employs 2.4 million people.

Green said he wanted the SFO to remain as an independent agency and not be merged into a huge ‘fraud towers’ organisation that would try to cover all aspects of financial wrongdoing.

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That large company mysteriously came second because it took the entire bid team involved in deciding who should win the contract to Ascot, Wimbledon and the F1 Grand Prix at Singapore and gave them some serious champagne. Being seen to be independent od influence is important and hospitailty affects that. No real mystery but he may discover it’s not as simple as he thinks.

The sad thing although this right the UK will loose billions of £ in overseas business. It’s an accepted fact in many parts of the world paying to get influence is a way of life. The Americans, french or any other European country will not impose this on their business. Of well as more factories close and more people join the unemployment queues we can take comfort in the fact that we have the most Draconian rules. Will the last person leaving closed factories please turn off the light.

The SFO has a hell of a job on it’s hands.It wants to look into every aspect of the BRITISH ECONOMY to get things in order.From banks to wholesalers as well as travel (rail operators especially) to put our system back into respectable order.Small print and other tricks are used by our commerce (shops, banks and many other “outlets” use our ignorence to obtain their “riches”.
I have just come home from Canada,where people EXPECT TO PAY TO WITHDRAW THEIR HARD-EARNED CASH.With that in mind ,if this happened here I expect our British people’s inteligence to tell them where to go,and insist on cash payments paid to them in paypackets as in days of yore when common sense prevailed: in short THE TRUCK ACT .This is the sort of history that should NEVER BE FORGOTTEN.
Our financial system has gone all to hell by enticing people to spend money they don’t have,and THEY (you know who) are enticing you once again to borrow to try and even things up for THEMSELVES,not for you as in USA in 1950’s.

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