Financial Regulatory Forum

COLUMN – UK Bribery Act guidelines: has the lobbying worked?

By Helen Parry,   senior regulatory intelligence expert, Complinet. The views expressed are her own.

LONDON, April 5 (Complinet) - Seemingly unnerved at the anti- Bribery Act lobby’s dire predictions of British corporations losing out to competitors hailing from jurisdictions with a more relaxed approach to such matters, the Ministry of Justice appears to have taken heed. This is clearly demonstrated by the reassuring, empathetic and positively emollient tone employed in the revised version of the guidance for companies issued last week, particularly when sensitive issues such as facilitation payments and corporate hospitality are being addressed. This change of heart can be clearly discerned by comparing the original and revised versions of the case study on facilitation payments featured in the guidance documents.

THE ORIGINAL CASE STUDY

The original version posited a UK company engaging with a US counterpart in a consortium which was contracting in a third country jurisdiction “rife with corruption.” They were already in serious trouble, having made facilitation payments, struck a deal with union leaders, replaced the facilitation payments with IT services to educational centres connected to an opposition party and been accused of bribery by an overseas government.

The “remedial” part of the scenario consisted of the company being subjected to a barrage of hostile questions designed to elucidate in excruciating detail precisely how the firm had (probably) failed to manage its business to prevent such chicanery. Senior managers were referred to specifically on more than one occasion. The questions included whether:

– They had undertaken a risk assessment informed by the political, social and media environment;

UK seeks to reassure businesses on corporate tax

By Adrian Croft

LONDON, Feb 22 (Reuters) – Britain launched a consultation on Monday aimed at giving companies more clarity on any likely changes to tax laws as it seeks to reassure multinationals that the UK remains a competitive place to locate their business.

“Businesses want certainty on tax. That is why today I have set out, in collaboration with UK business, the government’s key principles for tax policy and how we will engage with business when developing tax policy,” finance minister Alistair Darling said.

The framework aims to ensure that UK tax is competitive, fair, minimises distortions to commercial decisions, and is predictable and simple with low compliance costs, the finance ministry said.

Bank of England’s King says UK, US closer than EU on regulation

It's closer across the Atlantic

It's closer across the Atlantic

 (Updates with more quotes, details from report)

LONDON, Feb 12 (Reuters) – Britain and the United States are more convinced of the need to force banks to hold more capital than some big European nations, Bank of England Governor Mervyn King told the Council for Financial Stability last month.

The minutes of the meeting between the BoE, the Treasury and the Financial Services Authority on Jan. 14, published on Friday, showed King felt the task of getting nations to agree to stricter rules for banks “should not be underestimated”.

The G20 group of developed and emerging nations has been looking at ways to strengthen regulation after the credit crisis but there have been concerns that a show of unity at the height of the crisis may fall apart as the global economy recovers.

France joins UK to target traders in bonus tax move

By Sudip Kar-Gupta and Sumeet Desai

PARIS/LONDON, Dec 16 (Reuters) – France singled out frontline financial traders for a special 50 percent tax on bonuses, following Britain by tapping into public anger over the pay deals of bankers whom many blame for the financial crisis.

Britain plans to tax bonuses for all bankers, whether merger and acquisition specialists, credit providers or trading room stars, while the French moves announced on Wednesday are restricted to those trading financial instruments.

Both countries’ measures will apply above certain thresholds, with the French measure for instance targeting bonuses above 27,500 euros ($40,060).

Banks expected to swallow most of new UK bonus tax

By Steve Slater

LONDON, Dec 11 (Reuters) – Banks are likely to swallow the bulk of the cost of a shock UK tax on bonuses unveiled this week, rather than pass it on to staff or find loopholes, as more countries join the clampdown on payouts, industry experts and sources said.

Britain slapped a special 50 percent tax on bank bonuses on Wednesday, provoking outrage across the industry and raising fears that London will lose talented staff and business to rival financial centres.

But France looks set to follow with its own one-off tax and Germany and other countries may clamp down on the free-wheeling bonus culture that critics say fueled the financial crisis. If more follow, it could reduce the impact on London and also prompt banks to absorb most of the cost, experts said.

UK slaps tax on bank bonuses, to spread pain later

A trader looks at her screens before Britain's Chancellor of the Exchequer Alistair Darling's pre-budget speech, on a trading floor in London December 9, 2009.  Darling set the stage for the coming election, announcing on Wednesday a one-off super tax on bank bonuses and other higher taxes on the rich.    REUTERS/Andrew Winning (BRITAIN - Tags: BUSINESS POLITICS EMPLOYMENT)  By Sumeet Desai

LONDON, Dec 9 (Reuters) – Britain’s Labour government slapped a one-off levy on bank bonuses on Wednesday and said it would hike income tax for all but the poorest in 2011, delaying action to tackle a record deficit until after an election it is expected to lose.

Despite warnings by ratings agencies that debt has to be reined in, finance minister Alistair Darling revised up his borrowing forecast for this year to a record 177.6 billion pounds ($290 billion) or 12.6 percent of GDP, from 175 billion.

Next year’s borrowing forecast was also revised up by 3 billion pounds in a pre-budget report that would normally be full of populist giveaways given an election is due in less than six months and Labour is well behind in opinion polls.

UK bank bailout cost hits 850 billion sterling – watchdog

banking_landing_page_image By Kirstin Ridley

LONDON, Dec 4 (Reuters) – The price tag for bailing out UK banks has hit 850 billion pounds ($1.4 trillion) but Britain’s spending watchdog says the final cost to taxpayers will not be known for years.

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Britain to make it easier to sue banks – government source

LONDON, Nov 16 (Reuters) – The British government will this week outline legislation allowing consumers to group together to claim damages from financial institutions that mislead customers over financial products, a government source said on Monday.

(more…)

Britain’s top retail banks set for shake-up

  LONDON, Nov 3 (Reuters) – Britain is set to announce on Tuesday a long-awaited deal with its bailed-out banks, including a record rights issue for Lloyds Banking Group and hefty disposals for Royal Bank of Scotland to appease the EU competition regulator and boost competition.

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Iceland says has new repayment deal with UK, Holland over deposit losses

Iceland's Prime Minister Johanna Sigurdardottir smiles before a vote on the controversial "Icesave bill" in Reykjavik August 28, 2009. (File Photo) REUTERS/Ingolfur Juliusson By Omar Valdimarsson
REYKJAVIK, Oct 18 (Reuters) – Iceland said on Sunday it had agreed to a new deal to repay Britain and the Netherlands billions of dollars of deposits lost when the island’s banks collapsed in 2008, paving the way for new aid from international lenders.
(more…)

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