Doing business abroad? UK bribery legislation claims its first scalp for overseas payments

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A printing company based in Eastbourne has had two employees sentenced to prison terms following an SFO investigation into bribes paid in return for the award of contracts to the company.

The chairman and sale director were sentenced to 18 months' and three years imprisonment for corruptly agreeing to make payments, contrary to section 1(1) of the Prevention of Corruption Act 1906. The company itself was also convicted of the same three offences and fined £2.2m. Both men were also disqualified from acting as company directors for six years. The payments were made for the award of printing contracts in Kenya and Mauritania.

This was the first conviction against a company for foreign bribery and highlights the reach of the legislation into activity carried out by UK companies in the developing world. Local expectation and standards of doing business in the developing world can sometimes can conflict with the obligations on UK business, and directors should be aware that their legal responsibilities travel with them overseas.