Today, the OECD has issued a report produced by its Working Group on Bribery in International Transactions. (1)
In response to its publication Richard Alderman, Director of the Serious Fraud Office said, "I welcome this report and its recognition that significant efforts have been made in the UK to combat foreign bribery. I am pleased to note the OECD's supportive calls for the SFO and other agencies to be suitably resourced to make even better inroads, through enforcement actions, into the cynical and sapping corrupt practices that too frequently blight global business."
Commenting further, Richard Alderman who steps down as SFO chief on 20 April, (2) said, "I have made anti-bribery enforcement one of the SFO's key objectives and am delighted to see that the OECD Working Group has recognised the very important work that our dedicated staff are doing in this area."
The OECD Report also reflects the Working Group's concerns that some of the enforcement actions, because they are concluded through a civil recovery process, have constrained transparency and therefore do not fully satisfy the public interest in understanding the adequacy or suitability of the enforcement outcome.
Richard Alderman acknowledges this, saying, "Whereas confidentiality has often been the key that unlocks resistance, if settlements could be more open, the public would have more confidence in the process leading to them. So I fully understand the OECD's concerns and it is my hope that improvements can be made. I believe for example that if implemented, proposals to allow the SFO to enter into deferred prosecution arrangements with companies, with appropriate judicial involvement, will be a positive development that would meet the concerns of the OECD, NGOs and the public." (3)
Notes for editors:
- The OECD Working Group on Bribery has just completed its report on the UK's application of the Convention of Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions and related instruments.
- Richard Alderman became Director of the SFO on 21 April 2008, appointed for a four-year term. His successor, David Green CB QC will take up the role on 23 April this year.
- The Ministry of Justice are drafting a consultation paper on Deferred Prosecution Agreements which they plan to publish in due course.
Serious Fraud Office, Elm House, 10-16 Elm Street, London, WC1X 0BJ
Press Office tel: 020 7239 7000/7001 or mobile: 0781 807 6688
Main switchboard tel: 020 7239 7272