On March 21, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s (OECD’s) Working Group on Bribery (Working Group) published its “Phase 4 Two-Year Follow-Up Report” on the United Kingdom’s implementation of the OECD anti-bribery convention. The Working Group’s report follows the written responses the United Kingdom submitted in March 2019 to the OECD’s “Phase 4” evaluation in March 2017.
In its report, the Working Group expresses some concern at the low level of finalized and ongoing foreign bribery enforcement cases in the United Kingdom, given the size of the UK economy. The Working Group’s findings include the following:
- there has only been a partial enforcement of the recommendations regarding the use and protection of whistleblowers in foreign bribery cases;
- the reform of the suspicious activity reports (SAR) system has still not been implemented even though it has been promised since 2015;
- improvements need to be made to the transparency of court decisions regarding foreign bribery cases to ensure routine publications of judgments and sentencing remarks;
- information sharing, bribery detection and case management needs to be improved by increasing collaboration between government agencies; and
- no steps have been taken to address long-standing recommendations to ensure the independence of foreign bribery investigations and prosecutions, or to enhance detection through mechanisms for reporting anti-money laundering.
However, the Working Group welcomed the adoption of the Criminal Finances Act 2017, which grants new powers to the UK Financial Intelligence Unit, including the authority to direct reporting entities to disclose additional information based on a SAR.
The Working Group has invited the United Kingdom to report back in writing by March 2021 on outstanding recommendations. The United Kingdom also will report to the Working Group on its foreign bribery enforcement actions in the context of its annual update.
The Working Group’s report is available here.