The Economic Crime and Corporate Transparency Bill (the bill) was debated in the House of Commons yesterday, 25 January.

The government intends to introduce a new offence of "failure to prevent fraud" when the bill makes its way to the House of Lords, which will be based on similar offences for bribery and tax evasion, security minister Tom Tugendhat said. Under such laws, prosecutors need only prove that organisations lacked “reasonable” or “adequate” controls to stop wrongdoing.

At present, prosecutors need to prove that a “directing mind” at a firm intended to commit the offence.

The director of the UK’s Serious Fraud Office (SFO) backed the plans.

SFO Director Lisa Osofsky said they had the “potential to transform prosecution” of the crime. She added that the “failure to prevent bribery offence was a game changer” after it was introduced in 2010.

It “supported our record £280m conviction of Glencore last November and has featured in nine of our twelve deferred prosecution agreements,” she said.

Dr Susan Hawley, executive director of Spotlight on Corruption, said “it is highly welcome that the corporate liability reform will finally make it onto the statute books”.

She called on the government to take a “broad and ambitious” approach and to introduce “strong measures to hold senior executives to account where companies they lead engage in economic crime.”

The bill is also set to overhaul Companies House with a view to boosting transparency around UK businesses and corporate entities.

As always, appropriate funding needs to be in place to enable the Government to put these measures into practice.