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Bribery Act

Bribery and corruption

The Bribery Act 2010, which came into force on 1 July 2011, provides a framework to combat bribery in the public and private sectors. As Scotland’s prosecution service, COPFS receives reports from the police and other reporting agencies in relation to alleged offences of bribery and corruption. COPFS is committed to tackling corruption at all levels and in all sectors, to maintain the integrity and security of our institutions and financial markets. All bribery and corruption cases are dealt with by a specialist team of prosecutors, investigators and forensic accountants, who take a robust, effective and fair approach to the investigation and prosecution of these offences, in accordance with the Scottish Prosecution Code and other instructions issued by the Lord Advocate.

Memoranda of understanding

COPFS works in partnership with a range of other law enforcement and prosecution authorities. We are a party to two Memoranda of Understanding (MOU) which set out how we will cooperate with UK law enforcement and prosecution authorities in the area of bribery and corruption:

MOU between COPFS and the Serious Fraud Office (SFO): 

The SFO is the authority responsible for dealing with serious cases of fraud, bribery and corruption in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. The MOU sets out how we will cooperate and share information with the SFO in relation to cases in which both organisations have an interest. 

MOU between COPFS and the Crown Prosecution Service, Financial Conduct Authority, Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs, Ministry of Defence Police, National Crime Agency, and Serious Fraud Office:

The purpose of this MOU is to ensure the UK fulfils its international obligations in terms of the various Conventions to which we are a signatory. It sets out how we will communicate and cooperate with other organisations in relation to foreign bribery cases. 

Guidance for businesses on the Bribery Act 2010

Section 7 of the Bribery Act 2010 created a new offence of failure of a commercial organisation to prevent bribery. Section 9 of the 2010 Act provides that the Secretary of State must publish guidance about procedures that commercial organisations can put in place to prevent persons associated with them from committing an offence under Section 7. This guidance, which applies to the UK as a whole, is produced by the Ministry of Justice and is published on their website

Scotland’s self-report initiative – guidance for businesses

On 1 July 2011, to mark the commencement of the 2010 Act and to highlight the Crown’s commitment to encouraging good corporate governance and to creating a corporate culture in which bribery is not hidden, the then Lord Advocate approved an initiative for businesses to ‘self-report’ bribery offences. The initiative must be reviewed and approved each year by the Lord Advocate and has recently been extended until June 2020.

Under this initiative, businesses which discover bribery or corruption within their own organisation may make a report to COPFS, with a view to consideration being given by the Crown to refraining from prosecution and instead making a referral to the Civil Recovery Unit for civil settlement. The Civil Recovery Unit is independent of COPFS and acts on behalf of Scottish Ministers. 

COPFS publishes guidance to businesses on the approach that we take to cases that are ‘self-reported’ under this initiative. The guidance sets out the requirements for making a self-report, the factors that COPFS will take into account when deciding if a case is suitable for referral to the Civil Recovery Unit, the conditions attached to such referrals, and other practical information about the process. 

It should be noted that the system of Deferred Prosecution Agreements that exists elsewhere in the UK does not operate in Scotland.

Media releases and information – prosecutions

Media releases and information – civil settlements

Civil settlements are agreed by the Civil Recovery Unit on behalf of Scottish Ministers. The Joint Minutes of Agreement are a matter of public record and are published by Registers of Scotland in the Books of Council and Session.