UK Takes the Lead on Anti-Corruption

July 6th, 2011

As UK Bribery Act Goes Into Effect, Challenges To US Anti-Corruption Law Remain

WASHINGTON, DC – After nearly a year of delays, the UK Bribery Act went into effect on July 1st. The act mandates stiff penalties, including up to 10 years in jail, for bribes paid by any business with a UK presence. In an ironic twist, while the UK Act is being touted as an extension to its cross-Atlantic counterpart, the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), anti-bribery proponents charge that the FCPA is under attack.

“The UK Bribery Act goes beyond the FCPA by criminalizing all forms of commercial bribery, not just bribery of foreign officials as the FCPA does, and is intended to bring the UK into compliance with the UN Convention Against Corruption.  It is surprising and disheartening that even as this impressive UK Bribery Act comes into force, the US Chamber of Commerce is trying to water down the FCPA,”said Global Financial Integrity Legislative Affairs Director and Legal Counsel, Heather Lowe. “The UK has taken the lead in anti-corruption efforts with the enactment of this law and the U.S. shouldn’t be heading in the other direction.”

The Chamber of Commerce’s proposed reforms would significantly limit corporate liability for acts of bribery and change a key definition to make it clearer who companies are permitted to bribe and who they are not permitted to bribe. In the wake of stronger enforcement of the FCPA, the proposed changes could drastically undermine international anti-corruption efforts.

The World Bank estimates that more than $1 trillion is paid in bribes every year.  As the world’s largest economy, the US plays a key role in fighting corruption. At a time when anti-corruption efforts are being stepped up worldwide, including in RussiaChina, and India, a retreat from anti-bribery legislation by the US would undermine international progress in combating corruption.



Monique Perry Danziger
+1 202 293 0740 ext. 222


The Task Force on Financial Integrity and Economic Development addresses inequalities in the global financial system that penalize billions of people, and advocates for improved transparency and accountability.

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Written by Global Financial Integrity

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