The UK government is considering creating a new offence of a corporate failure to prevent economic crime.
The Attorney General, Jeremy Wright, announced last week that the measure was being considered as there is an increasing desire to hold companies liable for economic crime. The idea is also backed by David Green, Director of the Serious Fraud Office, who considers it necessary to hold corporate entities to account.
The proposed offence would be based on current laws that make it an offence to fail to prevent bribery, with a company being liable for financial crime committed by its employees, agents and subsidiaries. In order to defend a prosecution, a company would have to show that it had adequate procedures in place to prevent economic crime occurring.
No indication has yet been given for the introduction of the new offence, but it is unlikely to be introduced before the general election in 2015. However, given cross-party support to reduce corporate criminal activity, it is likely to be put in place regardless of who is in government next year.
The Attorney General’s speech can be read here.
Read our expert comments on this proposal here.