The Bribery Act 2010 came into force on 1 July 2011. The Act introduced two general offences:
1. Offering, promising or giving a bribe (Section 1);
2. Requesting, agreeing to receive or accepting a bribe (Section 2).
The Serious Fraud Office is the main organisation responsible for enforcing the Bribery Act in England & Wales. On 14 August 2013 the Serious Fraud Office published a press release confirming that it has charged three men with offences of making and accepting a financial advantage, contrary to sections 1(1) and 2(1) of the Bribery Act 2010. These are the first charges by the Serious Fraud Office under the Act. Successful prosecutions have previously been brought by the police.
The charges relate to an investigation concerning the promotion and sale of bio fuel investment products by Sustainable Agroenergy Plc and associated companies. The value of the alleged fraud is estimated to be in the region of £23 million.
The penalties for individuals convicted of offences under sections 1 and 2 of the Act include up to 10 years imprisonment and an unlimited fine. The first prosecution under section 7 of the Act (failure of commercial organisations to prevent bribery) is still awaited.