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Tougher UK sentences for bribery, other white-collar crimes

The Sentencing Council in the UK has released new guidelines for how individuals convicted of fraud, money laundering and bribery offenses should be punished. 

They will take effect on October 1, 2014.

The impact of the crime on its victims will be reflected in the perpetrator’s sentence The Council said this could lead to higher sentences when the financial loss is small but the impact of the crime is high.

Courts will consider the emotional impact on the victim, allowing increased penalties for those who target the vulnerable.

White-collar fraudsters whose victims may be less directly identifiable can also receive harsher penalties. Those who abuse their power or the trust others, bribe public officials, commit crimes across borders or mislead investigators can also be hit with harsher sentences.

“The level of culpability is determined by weighing up all the factors of the case to determine the offender’s role and the extent to which the offending was planned and the sophistication with which it was carried out,” the Council said.

Mitigating factors that should be considered include: remorse; assisting investigators in the collection of evidence; steps taken to change one’s behavior; the accused’s mental and physical condition; and having no previous offenses.

Less culpability will be assigned to those involved in a crime because of coercion, intimidation or exploitation.

Bribery carries up to 10 years in jail. The new guidelines ask judges to take account of the amount of the bribes and harm caused to the victims and public.

Those with a high level of culpability who cause a high level of harm can expect prison sentences from five to eight year.

Those with the lowest level of culpability can face between 18 months and four years of prison time.

In January, the Sentencing Council set out tough new guidelines for fraud, bribery and money laundering offenses committed by corporate actors.

The Sentencing Council’s “Fraud, Bribery, and Money Laundering Offences Definitive Guidelines” released on May 23, 2014 can be found here.


Julie DiMauro is the executive editor of FCPA Blog and can be reached here.

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