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Call for evidence on corporate economic crime 16/01/2017 The Ministry of Justice has issued a call for evidence on whether further reform is needed to combat corporate criminality

Call for evidence on corporate economic crime

The Ministry of Justice has issued a call for evidence on whether further reform is needed to combat corporate criminality. It is the latest in a series of moves to repair trust in business and improve accountability, including measures in the Financial Crime Bill to penalise firms who fail to prevent staff conducting tax evasion.

At the moment, under existing laws, enforcement agencies can struggle to prosecute corporations for criminal offences such as fraud, money laundering and false accounting.

The call for evidence seeks views on:

  • whether the need to prove the involvement of a “directing mind” in corporate offending is hindering the prosecution of companies for wrongdoing
  • alternatives to proving “directing mind” complicity in corporate criminal conduct, including:
    • a US-style ‘vicarious’ liability offence, making companies guilty through the actions of their staff, without the need to prove complicity
    • the failure to prevent model, whereby a company is liable unless it shows it has taken steps to prevent offending
    • the benefits of strengthening regulatory regimes.

The issue is whether there is potential for reform of the law, in areas of economic crime other than bribery and tax evasion, so as to provide a just and proportionate method of holding companies to account.

The call for evidence therefore seeks evidence of corporate crime going unpunished because of the problems caused by the “identification” doctrine. It analyses the corporate failure to prevent option, which has proved to be effective against bribery, and it also seeks evidence on the costs and benefits of further reform, against the background of the significant changes that have already been made to tackle misconduct in some sectors.

The call for evidence will run until 24th March 2017.

It can be found here.

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