No bribes please! We’re British

The Serious Fraud Office is already investigating accusations of irregular payments by a British company Credit: ITV

A whistleblower for a British Company has told ITV of his concerns about irregular payments to officials abroad as part of an investigation into the new British Bribery act.

The act, which came into force in 2011, prohibits the payment of bribes by companies to foreign government officials.

In Exposure: No Bribes please! We’re British, ITV asks whether the new law is working.

GPT Special Projects is a British subsidiary of defence giant EADS.

In the programme it’s accused by a whistleblower of making irregular payments to a number of officials in Saudi Arabia.

Ian Foxley worked as the programme director for GPT, which was providing communications work for the Saudi National Guard. Whilst working in the Riyadh office he discovered a number of suspicious payments going through his books. He told Exposure:

I discovered that there were irregular payments going through the company, payments to companies that I didn’t think produced product or output to my programme. I asked who these companies were and why we were making payments to them. I effectively got told that my job was to run the program not to ask questions about who we’re paying invoices to .

In response to the allegations GPT’s lawyers they were unable to comment because the Director of the Serious Fraud Office had opened a formal criminal investigation into certain allegations concerning GPT, and that the programme would not present an accurate picture of events.

The programme also looks at what difference the Bribery Act will make.

Alexandra Wrage, from anti-bribery group TRACE, says that the culture of bribery runs through many British businesses.

In April 2010 the group held a reception for British businessmen and women at the Tower of London to celebrate the UK's first ever overseas bribery act. Speaking to ITV's Exposure Ms Wrage said:

When we asked them which law is going to keep you up at night, the US Foreign Corrupt practices act or the UK Bribery Act and over 80% of them indicated that they are still more frightened by the US law and enforcement of that law, than they are about the British law.

But top anti bribery lawyer Jeremy Carver told the programme since the act came in he’s hopeful that attitudes are changing.

Will British companies ever give up bribery? It will happen. It will happen because it will be forced on us.

You can see the full programme tonight on ITV1 at 10:35pm