Anti-bribery systems and controls have been at the forefront of compliance officers’ minds for some time, in particular since the enactment of the UK Bribery Act (PDF) which Oliver s’Jacob has already commented on in his blog of 19 April.
Readers may be interested to know that the UK Financial Services Authority (FSA) on 21 July 2011 fined insurance broker Willis Limited £6,895,000 for failure to comply with its regulatory obligation to implement appropriate anti-bribery and corruption systems and controls (SYSC 3.2.6 of the FSA Rules).
The regulatory action related to payments by Willis to non-FSA authorised third parties who assisted Willis in winning business from overseas clients in high risk jurisdictions. It is important to note that the FSA did not allege that Willis acted recklessly or deliberately. Willis settled the action at an early stage so benefited from a 30% reduction in the fine which would otherwise have been £9,850,000.
Had the UK Bribery Act been in force during the period concerned, Willis may have additionally found itself the subject of a criminal investigation. This regulatory action is a salutary reminder of the importance of not only creating robust systems and controls to deal with anti-money laundering, bribery and corruption but also to ensure that those policies are demonstrably implemented and monitored on an ongoing basis.
The FSA Final Notice can be found by clicking here.