Body says world running out of patience as justice secretary delays implementation of Bribery Act

British firms could lose out on international work because of the government’s failure to implement the Bribery Act in full, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.

Professor Mark Pieth, chairman of the OECD’s working group on bribery told the Guardian newspaper the body was “disappointed and concerned” at the failure to implement the Act, passed by the Labour government.

He said patience was “running out fast” among other industrialised nations and warned UK firms could be “blacklisted”.

Pieth added: “This move will hurt the competitiveness of British industry at a moment when it is most vulnerable. Allowing companies to continue to generate business by bribery actually weakens their competitive clout as they become dependent on illegal means.”

He said competitors in other countries were ready to take “robust action” against UK firms who don’t comply with international law.

The coalition has delayed the implementation of the Act, and is yet to publish guidelines under which the new rules will work.

This is despite continued claims by British business groups that the Act itself has the potential to put UK businesses in danger of prosecution after doing nothing wrong.

John Cridland, the head of business group the CBI, yesterday claimed the Act was not “fit for purpose”.