PtG Article 30.03.2012

New British bribery legislation will also affect international football transfers

At the Soccerex conference in Manchester, UK, Lawyer Andrew Trollope urged football clubs to draw up anti-bribery and corruption policies. Steve Menary reports from the conference.

New British legislation on bribery will extend its reach overseas and into international football transfers warned a legal expert. Last November, three Pakistani cricketers - Salman Butt, Mohammad Amir and Mohammad Asif - were found guilty of conspiring to accept corrupt payments under UK anti-corruption laws for bowling 'no balls' during a Test Match at Lords cricket ground in 2010.

Speaking at the 2012 Soccerex convention, lawyer Andrew Trollope of 187 Fleet Street said that the 2010 Bribery Act could be used against anyone connected with bribery and urged football clubs to draw up anti-bribery and corruption policies.

“There is often more than one agent involved [in a transfer] and if any of an agent’s fee finds its way to the manager or a player, that is likely to be a bribe or corrupt payment,” said Mr Trollope.

“If that involves a UK arrangement, then the individual and the club can be prosecuted.

Mr Trollope warned that prosecution against clubs for bribery and corruption could extend to fees paid to fast-track immigration applications or excessive corporate entertaining and insisted that clubs must make sure all their intermediaries in the UK and overseas can be trusted. He added:

“A club may be wholly innocent but unless they can demonstrate they are morally and criminally innocent they will be prosecuted. The people that can get clubs into trouble are the associated persons, an agent for the club or an agent’s agent.

“Clubs need to carry out a risk assessment, proper due diligence and communicate with staff so they know what the [anti-bribery] policy is. There should also be a proper policy on the employment of intermediaries.

“Bribery carries a sentence of up to 10 years imprisonment and an unlimited fine for commercial organisations.”