Hot topics in compliance part two – anti-corruption compliance trends in the US, UK and Hong Kong

Wednesday 23 March 2022

Eva Niu
Dentons, Beijing

Report on the joint webinar of the China Working Group of the IBA Asia Pacific Regional Forum and the IBA Antitrust Section

Wednesday 12 January 2022

Eva Niu Dentons, Beijing

Daniel Martin Holman Fenwick Willan, London
James Min LimNexus, Washington, DC
Peter So Deacons, Hong Kong

On 12 January 2022, the International Bar Association (IBA) held a webinar entitled Hot topics in compliance part two - Anti-corruption compliance trends in the US, UK, and Hong Kong. This was part two of a three-part webinar series presented by the China Working Group of the IBA Asia Pacific Regional Forum, supported by the IBA Antitrust Section.

With Eva Niu from Dentons’ Beijing office serving as the moderator, the IBA invited three prestigious experts with extensive experience in the field of anti-corruption to speak - Daniel Martin from Holman Fenwick Willan in London, James Min from LimNexus in Washington, DC and Peter So from Deacons in Hong Kong.

The enforcement of global anti-corruption regulations by various governments worldwide has created heightened compliance requirements for companies globally. Businesses in Asia need to ensure that they not only comply with local anti-corruption legislation where they operate but also any international anti-corruption laws with extraterritorial reach, such as the United States’ Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) and the United Kingdom’s Bribery Act 2010. In this webinar, the three panellists discussed the different anti-corruption regimes in three different jurisdictions respectively, as well as comparing the similarities in the compliance requirements.

The speakers addressed the major differences between the anti-corruption laws in each of the jurisdictions and those of other countries, as well as the legislation and its enforcement in recent years. James Min pointed out that the key difference between FCPA and other anti-corruption laws is that it focuses on overseas operations with significant extraterritorial application, as it applies not only to US companies, but also to transactions using US dollars. Daniel Martin added that the Bribery Act created similar extensive extra territorial reach, as both the US and UK may also apply sanctions to foreign companies that engage in corruption but are not subject to FCPA or the Bribery Act. Peter So explained about public and private bribery in Hong Kong. All three speakers then discussed the differences among the Hong Kong Prevention of Bribery Ordinance, FCPA and the Bribery Act, and the implications for multinational corporations.

The speakers then discussed future developments and advice for Asian companies to cope with those potential changes for each jurisdiction. Min and Martin emphasised that, as FCPA and the Bribery Act are expanding the extraterritorial effect, Asian companies with no ties to the US or UK should also be concerned about the enforcement and compliance requirements of these two laws. All speakers agreed that where international transactions are complex, and given the fact that the failure to prevent bribery could be a crime, companies should focus on the prevention of bribery through a solid and comprehensive compliance programme. It is better to get attorneys to work on a compliance programme than to fix the problems after violating the law.