Browsing through the annual report of the Serious Fraud Office - it contains a highly readable account of the Versailles affair, which ended with chief executive Carl Cushnie going down for six years - I stumbled on news that the SFO has assumed "a lead responsibility for assessing allegations of corruption involving British individuals and companies overseas".
Robert Wardle, the SFO's director, says it is already working on a dozen such investigations. These are likely to set critical precedents for British exporters and companies undertaking contracts overseas.
Mr Wardle expects his office to play a central part in implementing the UK's signature of the the OECD convention combating bribery of foreign public officials.
This must involve establishing the familiar, but delicate, distinction between corruption and commission paid to an agent.
There is also the distinction between paying an outright bribe to win a contract and slipping someone a small bundle of rupees to get the phone installed or the electricity connected. The Americans, who are supposedly ruthlessly hot on corruption, are said to turn a blind eye on so-called "facility payments".
John Allan, chief executive of Exel, a company managing supply chains internationally for other people and dealing with all sorts of foreign officialdom every day of the week, takes a tougher line. He is wary of distinguishing between "paying someone to do what he should not do and paying him to do what he should do". Once you start incentivising shipping clerks and lowly customs people to get on with their work the word goes round, he says. Before you know it, you are expected to pay everybody.
It will be interesting to see whether the SFO, which is concerned with the law rather than commercial practicalities, is equally resolute.
One admirable aspect of the SFO is that it provides better value for money than many public bodies. In 2004/05 it cost the taxpayer £41.75 million, including an "extra provision for large cases" - and recovered £17.5 million in confiscation orders.
Versailles' finance director Fred Clough was also ordered to pay £14.2 million or face an extra three years inside. More recently Mr Cushnie received a similar order for £10.1 million. Any money they actually surrender will go to their victims, not the Treasury. But it is still value.