MOFO: The Serious Fraud Office Releases Updated Guidance on Key Aspects of the UK Bribery Act 2010

The Bribery Act 2010 (the Act), which came into force in July 2011, created a more robust legislative framework allowing for the prosecution of domestic and international bribery offences in the UK. The Serious Fraud Office (the SFO) is the lead agency in England, Wales and Northern Ireland for investigating and prosecuting cases of domestic and overseas corruption.

On 9 October 2012, the SFO published updated statements of policy on certain key issues arising under the Act. These statements of policy deal with the topics of facilitation payments and business expenditure under the Act. In addition, the SFO has updated its general policy on corporate self-reporting of offences.

The statements of policy have been updated in order to:
a) restate the SFO’s primary role as an investigator and prosecutor of serious or complex fraud, including corruption;
b) ensure there is consistency with other prosecuting bodies; and
c) meet certain recommendations of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

The revised statements of policy will have immediate effect and supersede any statements of policy or practice previously made by or on behalf of the SFO regarding these issues.


Facilitation Payments under the Act — The SFO confirms that:
• A facilitation payment is a type of bribe.
• Facilitation payments are illegal under the Act regardless of the size or frequency of the payment.
Business Expenditure (Hospitality) under the Act

The SFO acknowledges that:
• Bona fide hospitality or promotional or other legitimate business expenditure is an established and important part of doing business.
• Bribes are sometimes disguised as legitimate business expenditure.”

(By Kevin Roberts and Keily Blair)

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