Corruption

Oral Answers to Questions — Solicitor-General – in the House of Commons at 10:30 am on 12th October 2006.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Hugh Bayley Hugh Bayley NATO Parliamentary Assembly UK Delegation 10:30 am, 12th October 2006

What contribution his Department is making to the Government-wide initiative to tackle overseas corruption.

Photo of Mike O'Brien Mike O'Brien Solicitor General, Law Officers' Department

My Department, and especially the Serious Fraud Office and the Crown Prosecution Service, has contributed to the UK action plan on overseas corruption. We have also provided training and technical expertise in tackling corruption to other countries, such as Romania, Macedonia, Ghana, Kenya and Bulgaria.

Photo of Hugh Bayley Hugh Bayley NATO Parliamentary Assembly UK Delegation

When the Prime Minister responded to the all-party group on Africa report on the UK and corruption in Africa he said that the Government planned

"to establish a dedicated unit jointly housed by the City of London and Metropolitan Police Forces to investigate allegations of foreign bribery by UK businesses, and use of the UK's financial system to launder the proceeds of corruption."

What use will the SFO make of those investigatory resources to ensure that cases of trans-national bribery are brought before the courts?

Photo of Mike O'Brien Mike O'Brien Solicitor General, Law Officers' Department

My hon. Friend has been pressing for the setting up of that unit and, as part of the national action plan on overseas corruption, the Metropolitan police and the City of London police have formed a specialised unit that will begin operations in three weeks' time, from 1 November. It will be tasked with the investigation of aspects of overseas corruption, and it will be funded by the Department for International Development. Of course, the SFO remains the lead department on overseas corruption, but the new City of London police and Metropolitan police unit will be a valuable resource that it can use. Clearly, the SFO cannot investigate all matters, but the new unit will be able to investigate those areas that the SFO cannot reach.

Photo of Anne McIntosh Anne McIntosh Shadow Minister (Work and Pensions)

The Solicitor-General must be aware of the concern that Romania and Bulgaria are being allowed to join the European Union before they have put their own houses in order. What threat does he believe that they pose to this country in terms of organised crime and corruption?

Photo of Mike O'Brien Mike O'Brien Solicitor General, Law Officers' Department

Clearly, we are watching with care the impact that crime has in a number of eastern European states. We want the European Union to expand, but on the right terms, so we are developing much closer links with Bulgaria and Romania to ensure that we have the facility to work with them and to assist them, where we can, in tackling some of the crime and corruption problems that they obviously have.