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Britain's new anti-corruption law, the UK Bribery Act 2010, came into force on 1 July 2011 after a legislative process that was long, complex, and controversial, mainly because of the implementing conditions. Companies in the energy sector, most of which have transnational business activities, are clearly covered under the law. This column will therefore briefly analyse the new set of rules and the scope of the law.
The origins of the UK government's adoption of the UK Bribery Act 2010 lie with the famous corruption case involving Saudi Arabia and the English defence company BAE Systems. The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) had decided to discontinue its investigation of the case for diplomatic reasons, setting off an outcry in British public opinion. It became necessary to reform UK anti-corruption laws, and a new paradigm was instituted through the Bribery Act.
1. Nations of the world show enthusiasm for the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative
Originally proposed by the NGO Publish What You Pay and taken up by the government of Tony Blair in 2002, the guiding idea behind the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) is to incite extractive companies to publish the payments they make to host governments. The EITI begins with the observation that too few of the 3.5 billion people living in resource-rich countries actually benefit from the exploitation of those natural resources. According to Clare Short, EITI President, "It is only through transparency of the production of gas, oil, and mining across the world that we can limit corruption, make sure that the sector is well governed, and that the income from it leads to development."