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Siobhain Egan Published in Lawyer Monthly

briberySiobhain’s latest article on bribery and corruption has been published in Lawyer Monthly’s March edition.

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LNL Lawyers on TV!

Laura Saunsbury was interviewed by CNN on 18th December 2012, explaining the differences between UK gun legislation and that of the United States, such was her success that she has been asked back to speak on another CNN television show on 22nd December 2012.

Siobhain Egan was interviewed on AL Jeezera on 19th December 2012  about the deficiencies of UK criminal legislation vis a vis criminal prosecutions and the Libor scandal.

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Possible Libor Arrests/Charges within the Next Month

Siobhain Egan writes that both Bloomberg (12/11/2012) and the Telegraph (09/11/2012) report that the SFO (working alongside FSA and the CPS) are due to make arrests within the next month. The Telegraph, in the body of its article, refers to charges being brought, but we think that is a little presumptuous. One wonders what precipitated this decision. It is still very early days; the investigation only opened in July after the SFO were given an additional (and relatively small) budget of £3 million.

Perhaps it was the French Prosecutor’s recent decision to make arrests, or the US success when securing massive payments from Barclays and HSBC (amongst others) in this apparent international race to secure arrests in the Libor scandal. Perhaps it is the leaked HM CPSI report due to be released shortly, which details serious failings within the SFO re staff, training and results.

It seems that that former traders / rate setters with UBS, RBS, and Barclays PLC are within the sights of the SFO.

If you are concerned that you will be facing arrest or investigation, you will need skilled, experienced solicitors who are familiar with the SFO and their mind-set.

Contact Jeffrey Lewis, Siobhain Egan, Miles Herman, or Keith Wood.

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Interim Committee to Take Forward Anti-Tax Avoidance Work

The Government has announced that it will appoint an interim advisory group to oversee the development of guidance on the new General Anti-Abuse Rule (GAAR).

The GAAR is being introduced to deter and counter abusive tax avoidance, while providing certainty, retaining a tax regime that is attractive to businesses, and minimising costs for taxpayers and HMRC.

In the last budget, the Government announced that a GAAR Advisory Panel would be established to give opinions on specific cases and to approve HMRC guidance on the new rule. HMRC will shortly begin the process of advertising for and appointing a Chair of the Advisory Panel, who will then advise HMRC on appointing the other panel members.

This process will not be complete until early next year. Until this time, an interim group of panel members led by Graham Aaronson QC will oversee the development of the new guidance, after it is published for public consultation in December.

Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury, David Gauke said:

"HMRC already has a strong set of weapons to tackle tax avoidance, and the GAAR will be a valuable additional tool in tackling artificial and abusive avoidance schemes. But we are also clear that it must address such schemes without creating uncertainty for business investment. I am pleased that Graham Aaronson will bring to bear the expertise that he and his colleagues have already brought to the GAAR Study Group Report to ensure that HMRC’s guidance is of practical use to all taxpayers."

Contact Jeffrey Lewis or Siobhain Egan for advice on these issues.

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UK Film and TV Companies Warned of Corruption Risks Abroad

UK film and TV companies need to heed corruption and bribery risks in financing and making films abroad, fraud investigators at Ernst & Young have warned.

Ernst & Young’s Fraud Investigation & Disputes Services have warned that the next front for enforcers could be the film industry following a growing trend among studios to work in emerging markets on new productions.

There is also a general pressure on countries to raise quotas of imported films. In the US enforcers have begun to ask questions of studios about potential bribery of foreign officials showing the extent of filmmaking’s exposure to such risks.

The warning follows China’s relaxation on the number of foreign films that can be distributed in the country, while UK filmmakers looking abroad for new opportunities received a funding boost earlier this year.

Filmmaking can be exposed to corruption in a number of ways, including:

  • Gift-giving is important in certain cultures, but under some circumstances could be construed as a bribe. Filmmaking also may need access to areas or locations closed to the public which may risk so called ‘facilitation’ payments which are illegal under the Bribery Act.
  • Under the Bribery Act failure to carry out checks on third parties leaves a company open to unlimited fines if it was to have a bribery or corruption problem. Joint ventures and third parties doing business on filmmakers’ behalf should be background checked – film companies need to know who they are dealing with and what relationship they have to the government.

Mike Rudberg, partner in Ernst & Young’s Media & Entertainment Group, commented: “With recent regulatory changes, it is vital companies are aware of their potential risks. While in more regulated industries, such as oil and gas, aerospace and defence, employees have a mind-set to fight corruption, it may not yet be ingrained in the entertainment industry, particularly among local operations.”

Contact Jeffrey Lewis or Siobhain Egan for advice on these issues.

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