Failure to Prevent an Economic Criminal Offence

Part of Criminal Finances Bill – in the House of Commons at 3:15 pm on 21st February 2017.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Nigel Mills Nigel Mills Conservative, Amber Valley 3:15 pm, 21st February 2017

It is a pleasure to speak in this debate. I rise to address the new clauses that my right hon. and learned Friend Sir Edward Garnier spoke about and new clause 6. I will begin by speaking to the new clauses tabled by my right hon. and learned Friend and the measures tabled by Catherine McKinnell, who co-chairs the all-party group on anti-corruption, on the failure to prevent economic crime.

Roger Mullin knows far more about such things than I do, and he made his argument well, but I reinforce the point that there is a strong feeling among the public, because if large companies are seen to be part of some very serious criminal activity, people are confused about why those companies and the senior people within them have not been prosecuted for those serious offences. If people look across the Atlantic, they see that America does manage to prosecute senior bankers for such offences, so they think, “We see all our banks being fined in America for being guilty of rigging various markets, yet why are no senior directors of those companies being prosecuted here? Why are those banks not being prosecuted?” That exposes the fact that our law, as the hon. Gentleman explained, has become out of date. It seems horribly unfair that the Serious Fraud Office finds it comparatively easy to prosecute very small companies and their directors, when it is clear who the controlling minds are, but that when we see far more serious offences being committed by, on behalf of, or for the benefit of much larger companies, we cannot quite find enough evidence to prosecute those companies or their very senior directors.