(Updates with prosecutor’s comment in third paragraph.)
Oct. 14 (Bloomberg) -- A London court clerk accused of asking for a 500 pound ($789) bribe to help clear a suspect of a driving offense became the first person to plead guilty under the U.K.’s new bribery law.
Munir Patel, 22, who worked as an administrative clerk at Redbridge Magistrates’ Court in the Ilford neighborhood of London, pleaded guilty today to requesting and receiving a bribe under the law, which took effect in July. He also pleaded guilty to misconduct in public office.
“Public corruption is an extremely serious offense that undermines public faith in the integrity of those who work in the criminal justice system,” said Gaon Hart, a lawyer for the Crown Prosecution Service’s special crime and counter-terrorism unit.
The Bribery Act, considered by some lawyers to be the world’s strictest anti-corruption law, spurred companies doing business in the U.K. to hire lawyers and advisers to ensure they wouldn’t violate it.
Patel’s lawyer, Janice Johnson, told Judge John Price the clerk is “a man of good character.” He is scheduled to be sentenced in November.
Under the law, which is similar to the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, companies must prove they have adequate controls to prevent corruption in order to defend themselves if a bribe is paid on their behalf anywhere in the world, even if company officials didn’t know.
“It is slightly ironic that the first prosecution under the Bribery Act has nothing to do with the much talked about and debated corporate offense of ‘failing to prevent bribery’ and the defense of ‘adequate procedures,’” Neill Blundell, the head of fraud at the law firm Eversheds in London, said in an e-mail. “We still therefore await to see which companies will be the very first to be targeted.”
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