UK sets up international anti-corruption agency

Out-Law News | 13 Aug 2015 | 1:51 pm | 1 min. read

A new anti-corruption unit is being set up in the UK, under the direction of the National Crime Agency. 

The International Corruption Unit (ICU) will be funded by the Department for International Development and will merge existing investigation and intelligence units from the Metropolitan police, City of London police and the National Crime Agency, the UK government said.

The new team will be managed by the National Crime Agency and will be the central point for investigating international corruption in the UK, the statement said.

Justine Greening, International Development Secretary said: "Corruption is not only picking the pockets of the poor, it is an enemy of prosperity and a brake on a country’s development. Through the international corruption unit, the best of British law enforcement will step up our aid work combatting corruption head on across the developing world."

Jon Benton, joint head of the ICU, said:  "The work we’re doing is absolutely vital for helping countries get back what is rightfully theirs. The message to individuals and companies who see developing countries as fair game is that the UK has zero tolerance for overseas bribery and corruption."

The DFID will provide the ICU with £21 million to cover the next five years, the statement said.

Since 2006, DFID police units in the UK have investigated more than 150 cases of overseas bribery and recovered £200 million of stolen assets, as well as prosecuting 27 individuals and one company, the statement said.

Global corporate crime expert Barry Vitou of Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind said: "The creation of this department was trailed in a government review several months ago. On paper the new department looks like a welcome development."

"However, the NCA has suffered from numerous defections, including Keith Bristow and rumours of an exodus of staff in recent months and has been subject to significant funding cuts. It will be important to ensure the new department is properly funded," Vitou said.