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Anti-bribery and corruption

The scope and breadth, as well as the aggressive enforcement of bribery and corruption laws, pose a risk for businesses in every market. The legal risks of bribery are significant: conviction for bribery offenses can result in corporations facing huge fines and debarment. Individuals can also be imprisoned. In some jurisdictions, directors and senior executives can bear personal responsibility for employee conduct.

In the United States, the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) has long been strongly enforced, with significant fines and penalties. Since the entry into force of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development’s (OECD) Anti-Bribery Convention, the UK – which enacted its own Bribery Act – and other OECD countries have substantially enhanced their laws and enforcement.

Prosecutors in jurisdictions including China, Kenya, Brazil and India are also increasingly assertive in investigating bribery allegations. In addition to this, multilateral development banks are actively investigating bribery, fraud and corruption allegations on projects financed by them.

Eversheds Sutherland’s anti-bribery and corruption practice is here to help you chart a course through this complex and constantly evolving legal area.

Experienced anti-bribery and corruption lawyers

Eversheds Sutherland understands that the commercial impact of bribery on your business can be huge. In the United States, for instance, convictions can lead to consequences, including debarment from export licensing and federal contracting. Firms can also face liability issues under the FCPA’s books and records provisions, which require the accurate reporting of costs and expenses. Firms can also face embezzlement, lower returns on equity, lower profit margins and increased exposure to extortion. Merely being publicly identified as participating in a bribery investigation can cause huge reputational and operational difficulties.

Eversheds Sutherland lawyers have extensive experience in advising and defending financial institutions, energy companies, manufacturing companies, engineering firms and other organizations in response to concerns about bribery and corruption. We understand the interaction between civil, criminal, regulatory and employment law and how issues can arise simultaneously in multiple jurisdictions. A particular area of emphasis is on the conduct of investigations in developing markets such as Ukraine, Tanzania and China.

Eversheds Sutherland has a strong track record in representing individual directors, senior officers and employees. We also prepare victims of bribery, corruption or fraud for civil and criminal actions to recover assets and punish wrongdoers. When appropriate, we regularly pre-package cases for local law enforcement and prosecutors and bring private prosecutions in selected jurisdictions.

We conduct independent investigations into bribery and fraud concerns, gather and forensically examine evidence, interview and take statements from witnesses, attend interviews with our clients, and actively advise on how to best address any given situation. If appropriate, we prepare findings and reports of investigations and make representations to reach negotiated settlements (including non-prosecution agreements and deferred prosecution agreements), and aggressively defend your interests before courts, regulators and other tribunals.

We advise and assist on decisions of whether to make voluntary disclosures of potential violations under applicable anti-bribery, securities and related laws and, where warranted, on whether to undertake other remedial actions. Our lawyers also prepare and submit such disclosures to regulatory and enforcement authorities. We often work closely with forensic accounting and audit firms on such matters.

Issues of bribery and corruption often go to the heart of corporate governance and raise other legal issues for public companies under securities laws. Consequently, our lawyers are experienced in advising boards of directors and senior management of companies on such matters worldwide.

Our lawyers also understand the vital importance of risk identification. Eversheds Sutherland provides strategic advice on establishing adequate procedures to recognize and minimize the risk of bribery. We develop sensible, practical anti-bribery systems and controls, and provide customized anti-corruption training (both online and in person). We also regularly conduct anti-bribery audits and gap analyses for businesses around the world.

Eversheds Sutherland frequently counsels organizations on anti-bribery issues that arise in their ongoing business relationships, including in the formation of joint ventures, retention of foreign agents and entry into emerging markets. Issues of the legality of foreign gifts, hospitality and business promotion often arise under applicable laws, especially when dealing with customers who may be state-owned instrumentalities and companies. Our lawyers assist in undertaking appropriate risk assessments in such situations and provide effective guidance on applicable laws.

We also undertake due diligence on anti-bribery and related issues in the context of acquisitions. This includes examining the target firm’s compliance procedures and controls, its track record, its agency relationships and other relevant factors, then structuring appropriate ways to handle these issues in a transactional context, including contractual provisions to allocate risk between buyers and sellers.

Our recent experience includes:

  • advising a communications company on allegations of fraud and bribery in its operations in Sub-Saharan Africa and its response to the investigations of a local anti-corruption unit.
  • conducting an internal investigation of an energy services company on allegations of bribery with respect to operations in Africa and reporting the results to its senior management and board of directors.
  • defending an aviation services company under investigation by the UK Serious Fraud Office for fraud and bribery.
  • representing Enron in connection with investigations by the U.S. Department of Justice West Coast Enron Task Force and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.
  • advising a global energy company on bribery concerns in high-risk developing markets, with particular emphasis on its legal liability in the U.S., the UK and a European Union jurisdiction.
  • advising an aerospace firm with respect to issues arising out of the sale of aircraft to certain high-risk countries.
  • representing individual directors of major NYSE and FTSE-listed companies in bribery and fraud investigations.
  • designing and rolling out anti-bribery compliance programs, policies, systems and training for global financial institutions and corporations operating worldwide.

If you would like any further information or need advice on anti-bribery and corruption law, please contact our legal team.

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