Investigation highlights Bribery Act risks
The SFO will be looking into the activities of the Sweett Group, following allegations that a former employee offered a bribe to a UAE official. The former employee operated from an office in Dubai under contract with Cyril Sweett International Limited (CSI). CSI is a company registered in Cyprus and is a wholly owned subsidiary of Sweett Group plc. Sweett Group initiated independent investigations of the allegation and has been keeping the SFO regularly informed as to the progress of those investigations.
The news of the investigation should act as a wake-up call for businesses, who are often unaware about the risks they face if accused of corrupt practices. Many do not appreciate that they can be held liable for the actions of third parties, such as agents and consultantss. One of the practical effects of the Bribery Act is that it requires companies to apply "due diligence" procedures when it comes to individuals or companies who are acting on behalf of the organisation.
Despite this many businesses do not make the necessary checks to ensure their external business partners are complying with the legislation. If such checks are made businesses significantly reduce their risk of being caught up in an investigation which could cause serious damage to the firm’s reputation and finances.
For further information on the Bribery Act please contact Claus Andersen, Partner in Corporate and Commercial on 020 7583 2222.