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Press Release

Head of Corporate Crime raises concerns at "the continued march of criminal law into the business sphere"

19/05/2016

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United Kingdom

Head of Fraud and Corporate Crime raises concerns at possibility of businesses being held accountable for crimes committed by people over whom they have no control.

The Ministry of Justice will consult on plans to extend the scope of the criminal offence of a corporate 'failing to prevent', beyond bribery and tax evasion to other economic crimes.

A senior corporate crime lawyer has warned that the proposed Ministry of Justice consultation on plans to extend the scope of the criminal offence of a corporate 'failing to prevent', beyond bribery and tax evasion to other economic crimes, raises serious questions.

The 'failure to prevent model' is likely to mirror the model that recently re-appeared in the consultation document for a new offence of failure to prevent tax evasion, or the facilitation of tax evasion, and Tony Lewis, head of Fraud and Corporate Crime at European law firm Fieldfisher, expressed concern at what he called "the continued march of criminal law into the business sphere."

He said: "Should the 'failure to prevent' model for other economic crimes in business follow suit, it will be a further example of the continued erosion of the need for there to have been knowledge of an offence to be committed in order to be prosecuted for it.

"What's more, this will place a significant financial burden on businesses which will need to implement and maintain thorough procedures to prevent any economic crime – but the reality is that they could be held liable for crimes committed by associated persons over whom they have no control.

"And the reach of these provisions – if they are indeed to follow the model set in the tax evasion consultation document and the existing Bribery Act – is so great that companies operating in the UK could be prosecuted in relation to economic crime committed anywhere in the world."

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