On March 1 and 7, 2023, the National Security Bill (the “Bill”) will enter the Report stage of the House of Lords, during which members of the House of Lords will be given a further opportunity to examine and make amendments to the Bill. The Bill was first introduced by the Home Secretary on May
A New ‘Economic Crime Bill’ in the United Kingdom to Strengthen Existing Economic Crime Laws
Following a wait of almost five years and expedited due to the UK sanctions announced against Russia, on March 1, 2022, the Economic Crime (Transparency and Enforcement) Bill (the Economic Crime Bill) was laid before the UK Parliament.
The provisions of the Economic Crime Bill will need to be debated in Parliament but, if passed into law, will amongst other things:
- enhance existing powers in relation to unexplained wealth orders (UWOs);
- increase the transparency over ownership of companies and property in the UK by introducing a Register of Overseas Entities (ROE) to require foreign owners of UK property to reveal their full identities;
- impose a strict civil liability test for monetary penalties, meaning the UK Office for Financial Sanctions Implementation (OFSI) would no longer be required to evidence that organizations had knowledge or a “reasonable cause to suspect” sanctions are being breached before being liable for fines; and
- give new powers to OFSI to publicly identify organizations that breach financial sanctions irrespective of whether or not they are the subject of a penalty.
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Client Advisory: Poaching: The Biden Executive Order and Employment Restrictions in Europe
No-poach and wage-fixing agreements – arrangements between companies seeking to prevent or limit the hiring of each other’s employees, or to suppress the wages and/or benefits of their respective current employees are not only currently under the spotlight in the US, but have also been subject to scrutiny by antitrust authorities in the European Union…
The Impact of UK Competition Law Director Disqualifications on the Role of the Non-Executive Director
The goal of the Company Directors Disqualification Act 1986 (‘CDDA’) is to protect the public and to deter competition law breaches. This subjects director behaviour to close scrutiny by courts and regulators, whose public enforcement goals differ from those associated with general company law director duties. In recent years the risk of disqualification has also…
Client Advisory: Public Inquiries in the UK: The Advantages and Disadvantages of Responding to a Request
It seems that at present in the UK hardly a week goes by without somebody calling for a public inquiry or the government announcing that it intends to launch one. There have been, and remain, many calls for a public inquiry or inquiries into issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic, but there are also calls…
The U.K. Serious Fraud Office’s Powers to Obtain Documents Located Overseas are Curtailed
On 5 January 2021, the U.K. Supreme Court (the U.K.’s highest Court) handed down its judgment in the case brought by the Houston-based engineering, procurement, construction company, KBR, Inc., challenging the right of the U.K. Serious Fraud Office (the SFO) to compel the production of documents located overseas. The Supreme Court unanimously ruled that the…
Financial Crime Controls Remain a Key Focus and Priority in the U.K.
With the 3 February 2021 announcement by Santander, the Madrid-based financial services company, that it is cooperating with a civil regulatory investigation by the U.K. Financial Conduct Authority (the FCA) into its compliance with the U.K. Money Laundering Regulations 2007 and potential breaches of FCA principles and rules relating to anti-money laundering and financial crime systems and controls, it is clear that financial crime is a significant area of focus for the U.K. in 2021.
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The Benefits and Risks of Conducting an Internal Investigation: Is it Better to Let Sleeping Dogs Lie?
One of the most difficult questions faced by any management team is whether, absent a legal, regulatory or statutory duty to do so, its company should commence an internal investigation. The answer is simpler when a law enforcement agency is knocking at the company’s door, when the company receives a request for information to which it is compelled to respond or when it is the subject of a whistleblower or adverse press report. However, it is perhaps far less simple when an investigation is being voluntarily contemplated to assess the general health of the company. What happens if an issue is identified that might otherwise have remained undetected, that leads to significant costs, demands on management time, adverse press and, perhaps worse still, regulatory sanction or criminal prosecution? Might it be better to let sleeping dogs lie?
The question as to whether to undertake a voluntary investigation is one that, for many years, has caused management teams to scratch their collective heads. Given the issues that have affected many companies as a result of the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic, the question is increasingly being raised. As a result of the effects of COVID-19, some companies were rushed into decisions that they might otherwise have spent more time considering, compliance processes were shortened or even overlooked, and employees were afforded more opportunity to take autonomous decisions, often within the less supervised confines of a remote environment. Is 2021 the time to revisit some of the decisions that were made over the past year and to lift up the floorboards?
In this article, we suggest some of the advantages and disadvantages of undertaking a proactive, voluntary internal investigation. We also consider some of the ways in which a company could mitigate those potential disadvantages.…
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Client Advisory: Second Circuit’s Decision in Mangouras: Implications for Privilege Assertions in Cross-Border Investigations
Increasingly frequent cross-border investigations have raised difficult questions of privilege and work product protection over the last few years. In the United States, attorney-client privilege protects confidential communications between attorneys and clients for the purpose of seeking or rendering legal advice, and the work product doctrine protects documents or materials prepared in anticipation of litigation…
The Rise of Reports Of Sanctions Breaches In The UK
In its 2019-2020 Annual Report (the Report), the UK’s sanctions office (the UK Office of Financial Sanctions Implementation (OFSI)) revealed that, between April 2019 and March 2020, it had received 140 voluntary disclosures of potential sanctions violations related to transactions worth a total of £982 million. This represents a record number of reports, and an…