Munir Yakub Patel, the court clerk at an East London court who took £500 not to put details of a traffic summons on a court database, has now been convicted under the Bribery Act. He admitted one count of bribery and misconduct, but denied seven counts of possession of an article for use in fraud (these charges have been ordered to lie on file). Sentencing has been adjourned until 11 November, but the judge has warned Mr Patel that he could face immediate custody. Under the Act, individuals can face up to 10 years in prison and an unlimited fine.
The Crown Prosecution Service stated that the Bribery Act has provided a "significant weapon in the amoury of prosecutors" that enabled them in this case to focus on the bribery element rather than general misconduct behaviour. The Serious Fraud Office has already made it clear that it will use the Act to pursue companies suspected of committing bribery.
The Act has replaced the UK’s bribery laws (consisting of a common law offence of bribery as well as various statutory offences) with four offences:
- bribing another person;
- being bribed;
- bribing a foreign public official; and
- failure by a commercial organisation to prevent a bribery.
Offences 1-3 can be committed by an individual or a commercial organisation (e.g. company, partnership etc.). Offence 4 can only be committed by a commercial organisation. Companies who are prosecuted under the Act can face unlimited fines.
More information about the Bribery Act 2010 can be found in our briefing note in our publications section.