UK anti-corruption drive has US companies sweating

| 17/07/2011

(Reuters): U.S. companies, already sweating under heightened enforcement of anti-corruption laws at home, are nervously reviewing their policies on how they wine and dine business contacts abroad in the wake of tough new regulations imposed in Britain. The new law, which took effect July 1, bans all so-called facilitating payments and does not expressly allow entertainment of government officials and others. The jury is still out on how rigorously British authorities will choose to enforce the law. Companies in the defense, pharmaceuticals, energy and telecommunications sectors are seen as particularly vulnerable.

At the same time, U.S. companies are grappling with tighter rules at home too. New whistleblower rules approved by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission have also spurred companies to scrutinize their existing compliance programs, according to legal experts in the United States and Washington.

"We have definitely seen an uptick in our business in the anti-corruption and anti-bribery area," said Ed Rubinoff, a Washington-based expert on export controls and foreign corruption with Akin Gump Strauss Hauer and Feld.

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