UK Law Puts Businesses On Defense

January 13, 2011

Who knew that tickets to a Arsenal match could land a U.S. business in hot water, and possibly have an executive facing up to 10 years in the slammer?

These are questions that attorneys, such as Philip Hilder, a white-collar criminal defense attorney at Hilder & Associates in Houston, are trying quickly understand the answers to for their clients. According to Hilder,” The new U.K. Bribery Act, set to take effect in April, has companies that do business in Britain running scared. The new law targets not only bribes to foreign officials made to grease the skids, but also payments between private businessmen. It’s being called the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act on steroids because it appears to be much stricter than the U.S. law. It’s confusing right now because it’s unclear whether fancy dinners and tickets to a soccer or cricket match will suddenly be seen as a criminal bribe, even for companies that aren’t headquartered in the U.K., but do business there.”

Do you think this legislation is an indirect response to the global financial meltdown? Is it a way to keep businesses from ‘persuading’ decision makers to agree to deals and overlook details that can derail aspects of the economy down the line?