UK case on Bribery Act’s ‘adequate procedures’ defence

In a recent case, a holding company pleaded guilty to failing to prevent an associated person bribing on its behalf. Its wholly-owned Cypriot subsidiary (the ‘associated person’) bribed an overseas business person (without the holding company knowing) in order to win a major contract that was worth £1.6m to the subsidiary. It did this by making payments to him for consultancy services via sham companies.

The holding company later discovered the bribery and reported it to the Serious Fraud Office (one of the UK bodies responsible for enforcing UK bribery laws), and was fined £2.35m.

Whilst the holding company had an anti-bribery statement, an ethics policy and online training (all of which applied to the subsidiary), it admitted that these did not amount to ‘adequate procedures’.