Rolls-Royce takes note of the announcement by the UK Serious Fraud Office (SFO) and will not comment on its decision. In January 2017, we reached an agreement on the postponement of prosecutions with the SFO and agreements with other investigating authorities and, since then, we have been working fully with the authorities. Rolls-Royce entered into a Deferred Prosecution Agreement (DPA) – a kind of Plea Bargain company – with the SFO in 2017 to resolve allegations of misconduct. It is reported that Rolls Royce has to pay a total of £671 million in penalties. The allegations related to bribes that Rolls Royce allegedly paid through local agents to secure contracts around the world. The charges spanned a long period from 1989 to 2013 and focused on conspiracy to bribery, false accounting and failure to prevent corruption. The transaction was concluded in January 2017 and took the form of a deferred Prosecution Agreement (DPA) approved by the English court. The DpAs came into force in the UK in February 2014 and this was only the third CCA agreed with the SFO and approved by the Court of Justice since its inception. DPAs allow an organization to avoid prosecution for corruption, fraud and other economic crimes by providing for a transaction with the SFO, which must then be approved by the court. The Court will only sign a CCA if it considers it to be fair, reasonable and proportionate in the interests of justice. The DPA will generally allow any prosecution of the organization to be stayed for a certain period of time so that the organization can meet certain conditions set by the SFO and the court.
The goal of DPAs is to allow a company to completely redeem itself from economic crimes without the stigma of a criminal conviction. However, data protection authorities are known to the public and are therefore known to the public. One of the two former DPAs, approved by the English court, concerned corruption cases discovered by Standard Bank Plc in connection with some of its transactions in Tanzania. The other was at an unspecified UK-based company that did most of its business with Asia. However, the Rolls-Royce comparison is by far the most financially important. Under the terms of the DPA, Rolls Royce must pay penalties of more than five years. It also agreed to bear the cost of the SFO investigation, which is reported to be around £12 million. Rolls Royce`s own cost is around £123 million. Allegations of misconduct focused on the company`s supply of engines to China and Indonesia. Rolls Royce did not realize what would have worked in its favor.
Nevertheless, in 2012, after drawing the SFO`s attention to certain concerns related to the activities complained of, Rolls Royce undertook its own internal investigation and also commissioned an external review of its anti-corruption and compliance procedures. Another thought for the court when approving the DPA was that Rolls Royce had made substantial changes within the organisation to avoid future cases of misconduct and that it had fully cooperated with the investigation. The Rolls-Royce comparison elicited mixed reactions. There are those who see this as a sign that the UK government and SFOs are serious about fighting corruption and corruption, both in the UK and abroad. Others argued that Rolls Royce got away with it easily and should have been sued. In any case, Rolls Royce`s problems highlight the potential risks of managing local agents or contacts in order to secure contracts abroad. Other DPAs will likely follow. A DPA means that the party accused of misconduct is not prosecuted, but this does not prevent people who have broken the law from facing individual prosecutions.