The main cause for concern is the imposition under section 7 of a strict liability offence for failing to prevent bribery, irrespective of where the offending acts have taken place. This applies to companies and partnerships incorporated or formed in the UK as well as “any other body corporate (wherever incorporated) which carries on a business, or part of a business, in any part of the [UK]”. The only defence that can be raised is if the corporate can show that it had in place “adequate procedures” designed to prevent bribery.
The second point of particular concern is the imposition of liability on a “senior officer” of a corporate (as well as the corporate itself) if it can be shown that one of the three general offences was committed by the body corporate with his/her “consent or connivance”. The fact that directors, managers and other similar functionaries may now find their necks on the line - albeit subject to proving consent or connivance - will certainly bring the effect of the Act into sharper focus at the higher levels of corporate organisations.
“A company may face prosecution for failing to prevent its employees, subsidiaries, agents or joint venture partners from paying a bribe anywhere in the world.”