By its nature corruption can be difficult to detect as it usually involves two or more people entering into a secret agreement. The agreement can be to pay a financial inducement to a public official for securing favour of some description in return.
In overseas corruption this can manifest itself in a UK company paying a bribe for the benefit of an overseas public official in order to win a contract. This can be done through a third party - commonly known as an agent or advisor - who then passes the bribe on to the public official or directly by the UK company to the public official.
Ingenious methods of making the payments are used by those involved, including moving the money through a number of offshore companies (which, on the face of it, have nothing to do with the intended recipient) registered in various jurisdictions.
The secret nature of the agreement means that it is difficult for anyone other than those involved to know what is going on. As a result of the work the SFO has conducted, we have identified a number of questionable practices within various sectors. We call these corruption indicators.
It is possible that in your day to day life or in your working environment you have or will come across questionable practices; things that, given your knowledge and experience, just do not seem to add up. This may not necessarily mean that corruption is present but it may be something that you wish to bring to the attention of your manager or contact us. We only investigate cases where the seriousness and complexity of the corruption meets our acceptance criteria. If you have information that fits this criteria, then please report it in confidence using our secure online reporting form. You can also send details to us in writing to: SFO Confidential, Serious Fraud Office, 2-4 Cockspur Street, London, SW1Y 5BS.