Those that watch the many available US based crime dramas on tv will be familiar with the US concept of plea bargaining. In essence, provide information or plead guilty to a lesser offence and it may be possible to negotiate a less severe criminal sentence.
There is no equivalent to plea bargaining in the UK, certainly in terms of a lesser sentence. In the UK, a reduction is made for many offences for a speedy guilty plea, which saves time and public money and it is sometimes possible to negotiate in the UK that additional charges will be dropped or for an indication of sentence for a plea of guilty, but it is not possible to negotiate or get an actual sentence reduced significantly by bargaining.
It is worth remembering this also when it comes to self reporting offences, particularly in the context of the Bribery Act which businesses are now taking seriously.
So, in a situation where a company discovers that an employee is involved in bribery or corruption and reports this to the SFO, does this mean that the company itself will not be prosecuted ?
The answer is clearly no, as has been stated in a recent SFO release. In short, self report or not, if an offence has been committed and it;s in the public interest to prosecute, the SFO say they will prosecute.
Based on the above it is clearly more important than ever for business management to have the right policies, procedures, training and monitoring in place to do all it is possible and proportionate to do to mitigate the risks of bribery or corruption.
If your business, whatever size, needs help or assistance on the implications of the Bribery Act or getting the right employment policies in place, get in touch with us. We can help in a cost effective way.
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