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Bribery and corruption- guidance and policies

Information for the public and legal professionals on bribery and corruption offences in Scotland, including COPFS policies and how we are implementing recommendations. 

What is bribery?

The Bribery Act 2010, which came into force on 1 July 2011, makes it an offence for or person to bribe another person or to be bribed.

The Bribery Act covers conduct that takes place in the UK and conduct abroad, if the perpetrator has a close connection with the UK. It also covers conduct in both the public and private sectors.

Companies and partnerships can also commit an offence for failing to prevent bribery, where a bribe has been paid on their behalf by an "associated person".

Offences under the Bribery Act 2010

The Bribery Act details bribery offences including:

  • Bribing another person - offering, promising or giving a financial or other advantage to a person to induce or reward a person to perform a relevant function or activity improperly
  • Being bribed - accepting, agreeing to receive or requesting a financial or other advantage as a reward for performing a relevant function or activity improperly
  • Bribery of foreign public officials - using a bribe to influence a foreign public official to obtain or retain business or a business advantage
  • Failure of commercial organisations to prevent bribery

How we prosecute bribery offences

COPFS receives reports from the police and other reporting agencies. We also receive reports directly from businesses under Scotland’s bribery self-report initiative.

Bribery and corruption cases are dealt with by our specialist team of prosecutors, investigators and forensic accountants in the COPFS Serious and Organised Crime Unit (SOCU).

We work in partnership with other organisations and law enforcement agencies to prosecute bribery offences.

Reporting bribery

To report a crime, contact your local police office by phoning 101 or contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111. In an emergency dial 999. 

Scotland’s bribery self-report initiative

Bribery self-reporting - guidance for businesses

We have published guidance for business on 'self-reporting' of offences under the Bribery Act 2010 - including how to make a report and how COPFS will handle reports received. 

Under this initiative, businesses which discover bribery or corruption within their own organisation may make a report to COPFS. COPFS will consider whether or not to prosecute and may instead refer self-report cases to the Civil Recovery Unit for civil settlement. The Civil Recovery Unit is independent of COPFS and acts on behalf of Scottish Ministers.

The self-report initiative has been extended until 31 December 2023.

This guidance is part of COPFS's commitment to encouraging good corporate governance and to creating a corporate culture in which bribery is not hidden. COPFS will accept reports from businesses who wish to report the discovery by them of conduct within their organisation which may amount to a bribery offence. 

How we work with partners to prosecute bribery offences

We have published details of how COPFS works in partnership with other organisations to prosecute bribery offences.

Joint working with Serious Fraud Office

We have published a memorandum of understanding detailing how COPFS and the Serious Fraud Office will cooperate and share information in cases of serious or complex fraud, bribery and corruption in which both have an interest.

Tackling foreign bribery

We have published a memorandum of understanding detailing how COPFS works in partnership with other law enforcement and prosecution authorities to take action against foreign bribery.

Bribery prosecutions and civil settlements for bribery offences

We regularly publish details of bribery prosecutions and civil settlements for bribery offences:

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