The UK’s anti-bribery enforcement agency, the Serious Fraud Office (SFO), must be given more financial support from the government in order to effectively tackle corruption, according to a recent report from anti-corruption group Transparency International.
The report revealed that planned cutbacks to the SFO could cause a future decline in UK enforcement despite the number of bribery cases increasing from 17 to 23 over the past year.
The SFO’s resources and capabilities were hampered when its budget was decreased to £34 million (€43 million; $54 million) from a high of £51.5 million in 2008, leading some commentators to question the SFO's level of political support.
It also seems to have a lack of engagement from the business world: Deloitte recently polled more than 1,200 business professionals and found fewer than 10 percent of respondents said they were concerned about the UK Bribery Act.
Despite Transparency's specific concerns about the SFO's capabilities, the UK was not the only country to come under scrutiny. The report found that 18 of 37 studied countries had not brought any criminal charges for major cross-border corruption.
Japan was one such country highlighted, having recently been criticised by an Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) working group report that concluded “Japan still does not appear to be actively enforcing its foreign bribery offence.”
The report also noted a fear that US efforts would be undermined as the US Chamber of Commerce attempts to weaken the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, despite the US setting the standard for anti-bribery enforcement with 275 cases completed between 1999 and 2011.