Company bosses could be prosecuted for failing to stop their staff committing fraud under new laws being considered by ministers.
The plans, which have yet to be officially unveiled, follow similar plans to make company boards liable if staff facilitate tax evasion.
Prime Minister Theresa May has vowed to end “boardroom excess” and make tackling corporate crime a key focus.
Downing Street said the government would announce its bill in due course.
A new criminal finance bill will extend legislation and make employers responsible for preventing money-laundering, false accounting and fraud, The Times newspaper reports.
It comes after a recent speech by the attorney general Jeremy Wright QC who suggested the government would consult on extending the planned law on tax evasion, announced earlier this year.
Speaking at a symposium in Cambridge, he is reported as saying: “When considering the question ‘where does the buck stop?’ and who is responsible for economic crime, it is clear the answer is to be found at every level, from the boardroom down.”
He said companies facing prosecution would be more likely to “take the actions necessary to discourage such offending in the first place”.
It follows claims that while individuals were convicted over the Libor rigging scandal, UK authorities lacked the powers to act against institutions.
David Green, director of the Serious Fraud Office, said while banker Tom Hayes was the first person to be convicted for Libor fixing his employers were only held to account for his actions in a US court, where the law makes a prosecution easier.
Six former City money brokers who were cleared of helping to rig the lending rate claimed they had been made scapegoats for the scandal and any questions about the affair should have been put to senior bosses.
BBC (2016) Bosses could face jail for failure to prevent fraud. Available at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-37335744 (Accessed: 12 February 2017).
Paul Buck. CEO of EPIC Risk Management, commented:
“Gambling related fraud offences now equate to 12.5% of all UK frauds above £50,000 in the UK. Only two years ago it as less than 1%. Chief Executives have a responsibility to ensure that they provide a safe place to work and now they will have a very clear responsibility to put all safeguards in place to prevent fraud. EPIC are the leading independent consultancy who manage all risks around problem gambling whilst ensuring that duty of care and fiduciary responsibility are fulfilled. Get in touch today – it may keep your CEO out of jail!”