The recent BAE settlement has sparked criticism of the U.K.’s Serious Fraud Office and prompted additional discussion about the “Bribery Bill.” The Lawyer reports that the SFO faces criticism because the settlement appears to have ended investigations relating to allegations that BAE also paid bribes to several nations in Africa and Eastern Europe.
According to The Lawyer, the SFO lacked the proper legal framework to bring a case against BAE, and the Bribery Bill is designed to address this by aligning U.S. and U.K. law and enforcement of bribery officials. Most notably, the bill will require general counsel to be aware of the company’s ethical activities. It also aims to strengthen corporate governance and provide shareholders with a better route to redress through the court system when fraud is discovered, according to The Lawyer. The Bribery Bill is scheduled to be enacted later this year.
The recent BAE settlement provides a stark comparison between US and UK law on bribery of foreign officials. In the U.S., BAE pleaded guilty to one charge of conspiracy to make false statements and will pay a $400 million fine. In the U.K., however, BAE pleaded guilty to failure to keep reasonably accurate accounting records and will pay only a £30 million fine.