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FSA imposes record fine for anti-bribery and corruption failings

12 September 2011

The Financial Services Authority (FSA) fined Willis Ltd GBP 6.895 million for failings in its anti-bribery and corruption systems and controls.

The FSA found that these failings created an unacceptable risk that payments made by Willis Ltd to overseas third parties could be used for corrupt purposes. This is the biggest fine imposed by the FSA in relation to financial crime systems and controls to date.

Willis Ltd cooperated with the FSA and agreed to settle at an early stage of the FSA's investigation. The firm qualified for a 30% discount under the FSA's settlement discount scheme. Without the discount, the fine would have been GBP 9.85 million.

The FSA action was based upon breaches of the FSA's rules, in particular Principle 3 (a firm must take reasonable care to organise and control its affairs responsibly and effectively, with adequate risk-management systems), and follows a previous fine for AON Ltd in January 2009 in relation to failings in anti-bribery measures.

The relevant conduct took place before the implementation of the Bribery Act 2010, which came into force on 1 July 2011. Under the Act, individuals responsible for unlawful actions can be personally liable and can face up to ten years imprisonment and unlimited fines. If senior managers are held to have consented or connived in bribery by a company, they too can be personally liable and face imprisonment and unlimited fines. 

For more information on the Bribery Act 2010, please contact Arnondo Chakrabarti.

Further information

This case summary is part of the Allen & Overy Litigation Review, a monthly update on interesting new cases and legisation in commerical dispute resolution.  For more information please contact Sarah Garvey, Arnondo Chakrabarti or tel +44 (0)20 3088 3710.