Thursday, 21 July 2011

FSA fines Willis Ltd nearly £7m for failings in anti-bribery controls

We may have focused so much attention on the UK Bribery Act that we forget there are other regimes and legislation that cover this area.

The FSA has announced its action in respect of system failures that raised the risk of corruption and bribery. In particular...

The FSA investigation found that, up until August 2008, Willis Limited failed to:
  • ensure that it established and recorded an adequate commercial rationale to support its payments to overseas third parties;
  • ensure that adequate due diligence was carried out on overseas third parties to evaluate the risk involved in doing business with them; and
  • adequately review its relationships on a regular basis to confirm whether it was still necessary and appropriate for Willis Limited to continue with the relationship.
These failures contributed to a weak control environment surrounding payments to overseas third parties and gave rise to an unacceptable risk that these payments could be used for corrupt purposes, including paying bribes.

So although Willis found £227k of suspicious payments to Egypt and Russia no actual bribery was proven - this was a punishment for failing to take measures to control the use of payments through third parties.

This action was taken under provisions of the Financial Services and Markets Act.

An interesting sentence at the end of a report in the Washington Post extends the likely scope of such FSA action..

The agency said last month it is opening a review into whether investment banks have systems and controls in place to prevent their employees from paying bribes to win business.

That should prove interesting

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