Bribery and corruption

Chambers has a long established reputation in bribery and corruption cases. We are regularly instructed to advise upon, prosecute and defend complex and high-profile corruption cases involving criminal allegations, as well as in regulatory and civil cases, judicial reviews and arbitrations. We are known for our particular expertise in international and overseas corruption cases in which we act for governments, companies and individuals. These cases often result in cross-border investigations and prosecutions, requests for extradition and mutual legal assistance and state immunity issues, areas in which Chambers has an unparalleled reputation. These include cases in the United States, Hong Kong, the Middle East and the Caribbean.

We are frequently instructed in the very early stages of cases, such as during

  • internal investigations by companies;
  • Serious Fraud Office (SFO) investigations;
  • other UK investigations by, e.g., CPS, FCA, OFT;
  • foreign investigations and prosecutions (eg, by US authorities).

Our experience in advising and representing parties in domestic and foreign corruption cases and our proficiency in handling complex regulatory and criminal matters mean that we are well positioned to advise companies and individuals about compliance with the Bribery Act 2010 – which created a crime of strict liability for companies whose agents have bribed another anywhere in the world, subject to the defence of ‘adequate procedures’ to prevent bribery. Members of Chambers also deliver custom-designed training packages on compliance and other issues relating to the new legislation.

The first dedicated book on this subject was co-authored by Colin Nicholls QC: Corruption and Misuse of Public Office (1st ed. OUP 2006). In the second edition a chapter on the investigation and prosecution of corruption in the United States was authored by Rachel Barnes (2nd ed. OUP 2011).

Notable cases

  • Alstom French parent company and prosecutions of UK and Swiss subsidiaries
  • Anglo Leasing SFO investigation of corruption in Kenya; mutual legal assistance request from the Kenyan authorities
  • Balfour Beatty SFO investigation into allegations of bribery over an overseas contract
  • Barclays Bank and Qatar Holdings SFO and FCA investigations
  • BSG Resources Ltd Corruption investigation re. mining rights in Guinea; judicial review of SFO decisions under letters of request
  • FIFA (alleged corruption by officials at the International Federation of Football Associations)
  • Innospec Inc UK (SFO) and US (DoJ) prosecutions for foreign corruption and sanctions breaches
  • Johnson & Johnson Investigation into bribery committed by an acquired subsidiary in Europe
  • Operation Elveden/News Corp. Various prosecutions of public officials and journalists at The Sun and News of the World for payments for confidential information
  • R v Ryjenko & Another Alleged corrupt official at the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development
  • SFO v M-P British Aerospace ‘corruption’
  • Swift Oil & Gas SFO prosecution for alleged corruption in Nigeria
  • Turks & Caicos Islands Corruption scandal resulting in the prosecution of the former premier and others
  • UN Oil For Food Programme Various investigations into corrupt payments to Iraqi officials and breaches of international economic sanctions