A reader this week wrote:
Dear FCPA Blog,
I am just curious if Scotland splits off from the UK what are the implications for the FCPA and the UK Bribery Act? After all, it’s not every day a new nation is formed.
Certainly for England and Northern Ireland companies doing business in Scotland, a new country creates a whole new class of foreign officials.
However, I assume that Scotland would not be part of the UKBA and would therefore have to adopt its own anti-bribery regulations.
It would have to apply separately and join the OECD I assume as well.
Just interested in your thoughts on the eve of this historical vote.
* * *
The Scots, as it turned out, kept their heads and after 308 years will remain part of the United Kingdom, along with England, Wales, and Northern Ireland.
The question on the ballot Thursday was simple: “Should Scotland be an independent country?”
The No vote won by 55% to 45%. The turnout was 84% of the 4.2 million who had registered to vote.
* * *
A year or so ago, we asked the teenage niece of a Scottish friend how she intended to vote (by special arrangement, 16 and 17-year-olds were allowed to vote on the referendum). Young people usually like change and we expected from her a resounding Yes.
But she intended to vote No. Why? Because she was hoping to go to law school or business school and didn’t think an independent Scotland would offer the same career opportunities.
In other words, she was optimistic about her future and that equated to a No vote.
On the other hand, a lot of the Yes campaign seemed to be about protecting social benefits from London’s austerity. That’s a pessimistic view of the future.
To be fair, Scots were also thinking about some practical problems. Emma Hodcroft, a scientist in Edinburgh (a 500-mile drive from London), told USA Today before the vote, “We have so many things that we would need to set up — new tax system, new passport system, new defense system, a new system for drivers’ licenses — all these things that no one even thinks about and that we rely on every single day.”
The Virginians et al who decided to vote Yes in 1776 were optimistic — life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
In Scotland, the leaders of the Yes campaign somehow turned things around and lost the optimists.
But again to be fair, the Virginians et al were an ocean away from London in the era of sailing ships. They already knew they could handle taxes, defense, passports, and drivers licenses themselves.
Richard L. Cassin is the publisher and editor of the FCPA Blog. He can be contacted here.