YORKSHIRE firms must face up to tougher rules on competition, bribery and fraud, it was said.
Accountants PricewaterhouseCoopers said companies faced a “significant” increase in prosecutions for anti-competitive business behaviour, bribery, corruption and fraud as UK regulators tighten and enforce the rules more stringently.
This comes after years of pressure from bodies such as the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and the United Nations, which have warned that the UK is lagging behind its trading parties in this area.
Fran Marwood, director and Yorkshire leader of forensic investigations for PwC, said: “The reality is that if you are a company of a reasonable size with international operations, there is a real risk that your organisation is paying bribes somewhere along the line, whether you know it or not. You may also be breaching competition rules.”
Said Fran: “The UK’s relatively ‘light touch’ regulatory environment has cut companies a fair bit of slack in the recent past, but this is changing. “Enforcement agencies feel they have a new mandate for prosecution and companies will need to change the way they deal with these issues.”The Office of Fair Trading imposed fines totalling £130m on a number of construction companies earlier this year following evidence of “bid rigging”.Fran said companies should strenghten their compliance systems to avoid breaches in the first place, adding: “These fines are not simply a tactical move on behalf of the OFT but an indication of a sea change in the regulatory environment.”