By its nature corruption can be difficult to detect as it usually involves two or more people entering into a secret agreement. The agreement can be to pay a financial inducement to a public official for securing a favour of some description in return.

In overseas corruption this can manifest itself in a UK company paying a bribe for the benefit of an overseas public official in order to win a contract. This can be done through a third party – known as an agent or advisor – who then passes the bribe on to the public official or directly by the UK company to the public official.

Ingenious methods of making the payments are used by those involved, including moving the money through a number of offshore companies (which, on the face of it, have nothing to do with the intended recipient) registered in various jurisdictions.

The secret nature of the agreement means that it is difficult for anyone other than those involved to know what is going on. The SFO has conducted research and they have identified a number of questionable practices within various sectors. These are referred to as corruption indicators.

A problem with corruption cases can be that the end result might be obvious to the authorities but they cannot see the real thread and certainly have no obvious interest in the possibility that you and/or another may be set up to appear to be the person conducting the illicit business. To follow the money can be too difficult for the authority or its investigators therefore you need expert legal assistance to assist you to unravel a complex thread.

To achieve this we work with expert Counsel and experienced forensic accountants to investigate and then present your case. A very good team is essential in any complex financial criminality especially if it involves a foreign element. Of course, a foreign element might mean that other investigatory and prosecutory authorities might also be interested in sorting out the matter and their regime might be even more oppressive than that in the UK.

It is possible that in your day to day life or in your working environment you have or will come across questionable practices; things that, given your knowledge and experience, just do not seem to add up. This may not necessarily mean that corruption is present but it may be something that you wish to bring to the attention of your manager or contact the SFO who only investigate cases where the seriousness and complexity of the corruption meets their acceptance criteria.

If you have information that fits this criteria, then you may want to report it in confidence. You can do so using their secure online reporting form or you can send details to them in writing. First of all you may take the view that legal advice will be a good idea. That is where we come in. Our task is to make sure that you do not make mistakes in the way you deal with the authorities who might decide it suits their purposes to investigate and prosecute you to get to the offenders.

Clarke Kiernan, Corruption solicitors, 1 Lamberts Yard, Tonbridge, TN9 1ER. TN9 1DU Phone: 01732360999, Fax : 01732353835, fraud@clarkekiernan.comMap