Changing the Bribery Act risks undermining UK’s reputation

INVESTORS HAVE WARNED that dilution of the Bribery Act would undermine the UK’s reputation as a place to do business.

According to the Financial Times, the warning comes from the International Coporate Governance Network (ICGN) in response to a decision to delay implementation of the Act. It was due to come into effect in April. The ICGN has now written to Jeremy Heywood, Downing Street’s permanent secretary, with their concerns.

The Act is intended to bring the UK in line with the US foreign corrupt practices act.

Accountants Moore Thompson said in a statement on its website earlier this month: “Businesses will no doubt welcome the delay as giving them extra time to prepare for the Act, which makes it essential to review risks and put in place any necessary procedures to prevent bribery and mitigate the risk of committing offences, which include offering or giving a bribe or accepting one.”

Meanwhile, lawyers believe there are unlikely to be any fundamental changes to the six guiding principles contained in the Act. Neill Blundell, a partner at Eversheds, is reported by to have told a client meeting that the delay would put “more meat on the bones of the legislation”. He is reported to believe that it would come into force by May.

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