Business ethics and anti-corruption regulation and enforcement are at the forefront of the issues facing all businesses today. Worldwide, stringent anti-bribery and corruption laws are prompting businesses to review and strengthen their ethics and compliance policies, practices and procedures. Companies are becoming increasingly aware of the legal, financial and reputational risks of operating in ethically challenging jurisdictions, and of the importance of ensuring they have adequate procedures in place to prevent bribery and corruption.
An ethical failure could result in significant civil and criminal sanctions for businesses, and even imprisonment for individuals. Furthermore, interactions with investigating law enforcement authorities requires sensitive handling.
“Tier 1: Corporate crime (including fraud, bribery and corruption)” Legal 500 2015
The unprecedented level of co-operation among international enforcement authorities requires clients to adopt a coordinated, multinational approach to corruption issues. A company’s admissions to regulators in one country may be used against the company by regulators in another country. The outcome of such investigations could include the imposition of an outside monitor to assure anti-corruption law compliance.
Our areas of work
Our business ethics and anti-corruption practice helps clients to navigate national and international anti-corruption, regulatory and compliance issues and investigations wherever they arise. We advise corporates, financial institutions and senior executives extensively on the implications of international business ethics and anti-corruption best practice standards, wider developments in the legislative and corporate landscape, and in relation to internal and government-led investigations.
We work alongside our client to fully understand their business and environment to develop a sustainable programme that will strengthen internal capabilities and manage every aspect of legal, reputational and operational risk associated with business ethics and anticorruption.
Our business ethics and anti-corruption practice assists clients with all aspects of business ethics and anti-corruption compliance and investigations, including:
- Risk Assessment - As part of a risk assessment, our global business ethics and anti-corruption team examines whether a company or individual’s business activities, and the jurisdictions in which they are carried out, represent a high risk. We also analyse the company’s interactions with third parties and understanding on relevant company policies.
- Compliance and Integrity Programmes - We have advised clients on the design and implementation of action plans and compliance programmes in a confidential and privileged environment. This enables us to engage with employees more readily and accurately identify priority risks which require effective and close management.
- Third Party Risk Management - We design, implement and assess third party corruption risk management programmes to meet regulatory and stakeholder expectations. We advise on internal investigations related to third parties. We also provide due diligence on third parties and strategic advice on remedial measures and regulatory engagement.
- Anti-Corruption Training - We have also designed and conducted global training for all relevant employees in numerous companies. We personalise each training programme and presentation based on the risks faced by our clients’ industries and geographic locations, along with the business operations of particular audiences.
- Due Diligence - Our global team of lawyers are proficient in banking and corporate due diligence, with a proven track record in delivering seamless, commercial due diligence advice to business and individuals across a range of sectors in relation to anti-corruption risks. We also offer third-party due diligence from lawyers with significant experience of conducting background investigations on companies and individuals.
- Internal Audit - We advise in-house teams on design and implementation of methodologies aimed at detecting failures in accounts and records, with the aim of improving operational compliance.
- Investigations - Our service is built on a substantial understanding of the many legal, procedural, governance and reputational aspects of regulatory investigations. As part of the regulations and investigations group, our capabilities cover advice on all stages of investigations brought in relation to business ethics and anti-corruption, both internally within a business and in investigations instituted by government authorities.
- Litigation - We have extensive experience in advising multi-national companies and their key executives in both civil and criminal litigation involving claims of corruption, bribery, money laundering, fraud and other unethical business behaviour.
- International Trade Controls and Sanctions - We advise clients on specific transactions, assist them to design and implement global compliance programmes, help to obtain licences and permits, manage relationships with regulators, defend enforcement actions and handle related civil and criminal litigation.
Engagement in the business ethics and anti-corruption community
Our business ethics and anti-corruption practice is at the forefront of international initiatives and advancements in this field. Highlights include:
- World Bank-appointed monitor – Sam Eastwood was appointed to act as compliance monitor to Macmillan Publishers as part of the company’s settlement with the World Bank.
- Secondments – Our team members regularly undertake industry secondments within the legal departments of our clients where they gain invaluable industry insights.
- British Standards Institute’s panel for Anti-Bribery Standardisation – We are the sole legal advisers on the British Standards Institute’s panel for Anti-Bribery Standardisation.
- International Standards Organisation – We are the only legal practice represented on the project committee established by the ISO to consider the introduction of a standard on corruption.
- Engagement with the OECD - Our lawyers have facilitated events with the OECD aimed at ensuring continued investment in developing markets.
- Transparency International UK – We are represented on the board.
- SAI Global – We were appointed to Legal Board, advising the business on its compliance training products.
- University College London (UCL) Centre for Ethics and Law – We are among the founding members.
Our global practice
We work closely with colleagues across our global platform of more than 50 offices throughout Europe, the United States, Canada, Latin America, Asia, Australia, Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia to advise clients on international compliance needs across a wide range of risks. We are well-placed to address complex business ethics and anti-corruption issues that arise for national and multinational clients.
We have a breadth of experience advising on issues arising under the UK Bribery Act, US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and other international and domestic anti-corruption frameworks, including in China, Europe and Asia Pacific, in Russia and across Africa. We maintain strong relationships with regulators, including:
- The World Bank
- Department of Justice (United States)
- Securities and Exchange Commission (United States)
- Serious Fraud Office (United Kingdom)
- Financial Conduct Authority (United Kingdom)
- International Anti-Corruption Unit, Royal Canadian Mounted Police (Canada)
- Juge d’instruction (France)
- Monetary Authority of Singapore
- National Prosecuting Authority (South Africa)