New U.K. Agency to Target International Corruption

A new U.K. unit will investigate cases of international corruption affecting developing countries.

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A handout photograph taken and released April 25, 2015, by the U.K. National Crime Agency shows an officer looking through binoculars towards the tug Hamal, believed to have been carrying a shipment of cocaine, as it traveled off the coast of Scotland.Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

The International Corruption Unit will merge existing investigation and intelligence units spread across several agencies, including the National Crime Agency, as well as Metropolitan and City of London police. It will be operated by the National Crime Agency, with funding from the Department for International Development, and it will be the central point for investigating international corruption in the U.K., a U.K. government statement said.

According to a post on the National Crime Agency’s website describing the new unit, it will investigate bribery of foreign public officials by individuals or companies from the U.K., and money laundering by corrupt foreign officials and their associates. It will also trace and recover proceeds of international graft, support foreign law-enforcement agencies on global anti-corruption probes and work with companies to support increased compliance with the U.K. Bribery Act.

“The message to individuals and companies who see developing countries as fair game is that the U.K. has zero tolerance for overseas bribery and corruption,” said Jon Benton, a co-chief of the unit who previously led the Metropolitan Police’s Proceeds of Corruption Unit, in the statement.

The statement didn’t mention the Serious Fraud Office, which has been the chief U.K. enforcement agency on anti-bribery matters; its chief said last week the office’s status remains in doubt despite winning the conviction of trader Tom Hayes for rigging the London interbank offered rate, or Libor, and a string of ongoing corporate investigations.

The Wall Street Journal

10 August 2015