THE NEW BRIBERY ACT comes into force today (1 July) with the head of the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) promising he will not use it to pursue SMEs.
In an interview with The Daily Telegraph, Richard Alderman said: “Some people have speculated that we will be going for low-hanging fruit, that we will be going for smaller companies, to which my reply is ‘rubbish’. That is not our approach.”
Instead Alderman emphasised the focus would be on larger companies, with cases involving smaller companies being dealt with “through education rather than prosecution”.
The SFO chief also confirmed he would use the legislation to target foreign companies operating in the UK.
The Act makes it a crimimnal offence for failing tp prevent employees from accepting or offering bribes and makes individual directors liable for such acts.
It came into force amidst speculation that it could potentially outlaw corporate hospitality and result in a spate of prosecutions for other minor offences.
Alderman’s comments will help to assuage such fears as companies try and determine the impact of the new legislation.