Prosecutors won't have to prove that company bosses ordered or knew about a worker's fraudulent activity.
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Britain plans to make it easier to prosecute a large organisation if an employee commits fraud for the benefit of a business, the government said on Tuesday.
The interior ministry said businesses which fail to deter fraud will face enforcement action under the new plans and prosecutors will not have to prove that company bosses ordered or knew about a worker's fraudulent activity.
"If fraud is committed by an employee of an organisation, the organisation must be able to demonstrate it had reasonable measures in place to deter the offending or risk receiving an unlimited fine," the government said in a statement.
The new measure will be added to a piece of legislation, the Economic Crime and Corporate Transparency Bill, currently making its way through the British parliament. The new measures remain subject to approval by lawmakers.
"Our new failure to prevent fraud offence will protect consumers from dishonest and misleading sales practices, and level the playing field for the majority of businesses that behave responsibly," Security Minister Tom Tugendhat said.
Campaigners broadly welcomed the law, but expressed concern at an exemption for small and medium-sized firms.
"The introduction of this offence is a major milestone for the UK," said Susan Hawley, executive director of Spotlight on Corruption, a non-profit group.
"If this offence had been in place at the time of the financial crisis, for example, it would have allowed for effective prosecutions of the banks for their wrongdoing," she said, referring to the global financial crisis 15 years ago.
(Reporting by Farouq Suleiman and Sam Tobin; writing by Muvija M and William James; editing by Paul Simao)