Bribery and Corruption Investigations

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Bribery and Corruption Solicitors

Whether bribery and corruption investigations are brought by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO), Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), National Crime Agency, or overseas law enforcement agencies, it is vital that you seek legal help as soon as possible.

If you are facing allegations of bribery and corruption, the specialist solicitors at JMW can provide the expert advice, assistance and representation that you need. We have a track record of success in defending and advising individuals, business owners, directors and other high-level individuals in alleged bribery and corruption investigations.

To speak to our bribery and corruption solicitors in London, Manchester or Liverpool about allegations made against you or your business, call us now on 0345 872 6666, or complete our online enquiry form to request a call back. Our specialist and dedicated business crime team is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

How JMW Can Help with Bribery and Corruption Allegations and Investigations

Our solicitors are on hand to help regardless of what stage of a bribery and corruption criminal investigation you are at - whether you’ve been notified that you are under investigation, been arrested, invited for a voluntary interview, or charged.

Those found guilty of bribery and corruption are at risk of severe sentences - up to 10 years in prison and hefty fines - and their reputation can be on the line, so you need to find the right legal team as quickly as possible. At JMW, our specialist team of bribery and corruption solicitors provide tactical advice and practical steps to help you challenge any allegations and reach a successful outcome.

The services we offer those accused of bribery and corruption include:

  • Attending and responding to dawn raids
  • Judicial review of search and seizures powers
  • Production, restraint and freezing orders
  • Preparation and attending for interviews under caution
  • Preparing representations, negotiating on your behalf or taking legal challenges pre-charge
  • Representation during all criminal proceedings
  • Building and preparing a successful defence case
  • Managing and minimising reputational damage

Renowned for our professionalism and commitment to working as efficiently as possible at all times, we will guide you through the process from start to finish, delivering our expertise every step of the way. We are ranked as a Top Tier Firm by the Legal 500, as well as Chambers and Partners, for our business crime services.

Types of Bribery and Corruption Offences

Bribery is a criminal offence and can be defined as the offering, giving, receiving, or soliciting of any item of value to influence the actions of an individual in the discharge of legal or public duties. The types of bribery and corruption charges that we can assist you with include:

  • Extortion - when someone demands cash payment or other assets and threatens harm if these demands are not met
  • Bribes or kickbacks - when a reward is given to secure business
  • Corporate espionage - theft of trade secrets and intellectual property
  • Illegal gratuities - giving or receiving payback after a business transaction
  • Misconduct in a public office - including allegations contrary to the Nolan principles
  • Failing to prevent bribery - section 7 Bribery Act 2010

These actions can lead to severe legal consequences and professional guidance is vital in handling such matters. Our solicitors are well-versed in dealing with cases of bribery and can provide expert assistance.

What is corruption, and how does it differ from bribery?

Corruption is a broader term that encompasses various unethical practices, including bribery. It is the abuse of entrusted power for private gain and can manifest itself in many ways, such as embezzlement, fraud, nepotism, and misuse of public funds.

The primary difference between bribery and corruption is that bribery is a specific act involving one or more parties, usually to influence a particular decision or action. Corruption, on the other hand, is defined as a more pervasive and systemic issue, often involving a culture or pattern of unethical practices within an organisation or institution.

Both bribery and corruption are serious criminal offences under UK law.

Serious Fraud Office (SFO) Bribery and Corruption Investigations

The SFO is often the authority usually tasked with investigating bribery and corruption. Investigations by the SFO tend to rely heavily on data such as financial information, emails and other digital communications. For that reason, investigations can be lengthy - often taking years.

Due to the multi-jurisdictional nature of many bribery and corruption offences, the SFO works closely with its overseas counterparts, such as the US Department of Justice (DoJ) and Security and Exchange Commission (SEC).

Under section 2 of the Criminal Justice Act 1987, the SFO has wide-ranging powers of investigation and is able to compel material to be produced as well as require anyone in the UK to attend an interview and answer questions.

Deferred Prosecution Agreements

Deferred Prosecution Agreements (DPAs) are agreements made between an investigating authority and the accused where culpability is admitted to avoid criminal prosecution. However, the accused will have to agree to various conditions to draw a line under the investigation, which can include financial penalties and remedial measures. Many companies are turning to DPAs to resolve allegations of bribery and corruption. They are subject to complex rules and very careful specialist advice is required before making decisions in relation to DPAs.

Dawn Raids

If the police or another investigation authority begins their investigation unannounced, you should call us as soon as possible. A 'dawn raid' is a metaphorical title given to an unannounced investigation that may involve the police, the SFO, HMRC or the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), amongst others. For corruption and bribery cases, being unprepared can have serious consequences if the situation is not handled correctly. JMW's expert business crime team has experience dealing with such investigations and can help you to ensure you and the other parties involved follow the adequate procedures to ensure compliance and minimise risk.

How do Bribery and Corruption Investigations Work?

Bribery and corruption investigations are complex processes, often involving several steps:

  1. Initial complaint or suspicion: the investigation may begin with a complaint or suspicion of wrongdoing, either internally within an organisation or externally by regulators, authorities or whistleblowers
  2. Gathering evidence: investigating authorities will gather evidence. This may include interviewing witnesses, analysing financial records, conducting searches, and seizing assets
  3. Legal involvement: legal experts - such as those at JMW - can assist in responding to investigators, handling paperwork, and ensuring that the rights of the accused are protected throughout the investigation
  4. Analysis and assessment: evidence will be thoroughly analysed and legal experts may be involved in assessing the strength of the case. During this stage, it may be possible to make representations to investigators about limiting or discontinuing the investigation.
  5. Charges and prosecution: if sufficient evidence is found, charges may be brought against the individuals or entities involved. This can lead to a court trial, where legal representation is vital
  6. Resolution: the matter may be resolved through a trial, plea agreement, or other legal means, depending on the evidence and the specific circumstances of the case.

How Long Do Bribery and Corruption Investigations Typically Last?

The length of bribery and corruption investigations can vary widely, depending on the complexity of the case, the number of individuals involved, the amount of evidence to be gathered and analysed, and the cooperation of the parties involved.

Typically, investigations can last anywhere from several months to several years. Simpler cases may be resolved more quickly, while more complex or large-scale investigations can take much longer.

Seeking professional legal guidance from the anti-bribery and corruption investigation solicitors at JMW as early as possible can help companies to manage an investigation from the start and will make dealing with the process significantly easier and less stressful. In particularly successful cases, an investigation may be ended more quickly if properly handled.

FAQs About Bribery and Corruption Investigations

What is the UK Bribery Act?

The UK Bribery Act 2010 requires companies to operate in a certain manner to prevent bribery. The act is wide-ranging and covers issues such as public and private corruption and not allowing for facilitation payments. To find out more about the act, and how it could affect your business, read our guide here.

Which agencies can investigate bribery and corruption?

The SFO and National Crime Agency’s International Corruption Unit (ICU) are both primarily responsible for investigating allegations of international bribery and corruption. The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) prosecutes international corruption investigated by the National Crime Agency and other investigative bodies.

For cross-border investigations, these are likely to involve the US Department of Justice (DoJ), US Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO), among others.

Does the FCA investigate bribery?

The FCA does not directly investigate bribery offences; however, they can share information relating to suspicions or incidents of bribery and corruption with the SFO and National Crime Agency who do prosecute bribery offences.

Talk to Us

For more information about our specialist legal services for those facing bribery and corruption charges, contact JMW today. Our bribery and corruption solicitors in London, Manchester and Liverpool will be able to support you wherever you are located in the UK. Call us on 0345 872 6666, or complete our online enquiry form and a member of the team will give you a call back as soon as possible.