UK Bribery Act and the Companies Act 1985

In terms of the UK Bribery Act, for attorneys, in-house counsel, international lawyers, and others providing advice concerning global anti-bribery compliance, a clear need exists to be sensitive to other laws of the United Kingdom that may be applicable to situations involving allegations of improper inducements in foreign settings. Much like the FCPA’s accounting and record-keeping provisions, charges can be brought in the UK for improper inducements for inaccurate records in lieu of or addition to bribery charges for the improper inducements.

Under the UK’s Companies Act 1985, “every company” is required to keep accounting records that disclose “with reasonable accuracy” the financial position of the company, and enable the directors to ensure that any balance sheet and profit and loss account comply with the requirements under the Act as to their form and content and otherwise. In particular, company records must contain “entries from day to day of all sums of money received and expended by the company, and the matters in respect of which the receipt and expenditure takes place, and a record of the assets and liabilities of the company.”[1]

As an example, in the resolution of the UK’s Serious Fraud Office’s (“SFO”) investigation of BAE Systems PLC, the plea entered was to a violation of section 221 of the Companies Act for aiding and abetting the offence “contrary to section 221(5) of the Companies Act 1985 by the officers of British Aerospace Defence Systems Limited.”[2]


[1]Companies Act 1985, § 221 (UK).

[2]Regina v. BAE Systems PLC, BAE – CHARGE – Statement of Offence (Dec. 20, 2010).

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