First Bribery Act conviction sentence reduced

The Court of Appeal ruled the sentence imposed on Patel, ofGreen Lane Dagenham in November, was "excessive".

Patel used his privileged access to the court system to helpmore than 50 offenders avoid prosecution relating to driving offences inexchange for sums of up to £500, London's Southwark Crown Court was told. Hisactions were discovered following a national newspaper sting.

In November 2011, Patel was handed a three-year prison termfor bribery and ordered to serve six years concurrently for misconduct in apublic office.

His sentence challenge was heard by the Lord Chief Justice,Lord Judge, Mr Justice Openshaw and Mr Justice Irwin. Lord Chief Justice LordJudge, said: "In our judgment, the appropriate sentence for this criminalactivity remains a substantial sentence, but the sentence should be reducedfrom six to four years."

The indictment represented "misconduct which lastedwell over a year and involved at least 53 cases in which you manipulated theprocess in order to save offenders from the consequences of their offending -fines, penalty points and disqualification".

However of note at the time were the judge's remarksconcerning the absence of sentencing guidelines for the new Bribery Actoffence.

Whilst this prosecution was against an individual and notrelated to business activities, it was timely reminder to directors and boardsof companies who have not yet addressed bribery risks. Under s.14 of the Act,individual criminal liability can attach to directors and senior officers ofcompanies if they consent to or connive in corporate bribery.

The SFO has made it clear that it is keen to prosecute s.14cases against directors and senior officers of companies where there isknowledge of bribery occurring but it is permitted to continue.

Where bribery has taken place, individual criminal liabilityfor directors can also arise under the Proceeds of Crime Act if bribery isdiscovered but a choice is made to "sweep it under the carpet".Penalties under the Proceeds of Crime Act are even higher than the Bribery Actwith unlimited fines and up to 14 years imprisonment.

With the SFO running a facility for employees to reportbribery direct, it can only be a matter of time before we see the firstcorporate prosecution.

This article was first written by Bond Dickinson and has beenreproduced with their permission. Bond Dickinson are a leading UK business lawfirm, to find out more go to bonddickinson.com.