Rolls Names Head of Ethics Probe Amid Corruption Concerns

Rolls-Royce Holdings Plc, Europe’s largest maker of commercial aircraft engines, named David Gold to review anti-corruption procedures after the U.K. government questioned potential wrongdoing in business dealings in Asia.

Gold, a member of the House of Lords and previously a partner at the Herbert Smith LLP law firm, will report to the board’s ethics committee, the London-based company said in a statement today. The review is focused on actions of “intermediaries in overseas markets,” it said.

Rolls-Royce “identified matters of concern” in China and Indonesia in a review spurred by an inquiry from the U.K. Serious Fraud Office, it said Dec. 6. The SFO hasn’t decided whether to elevate the investigation into a formal probe that could take more than a year to complete.

Rolls shares fell as much as 0.6 percent and were trading at 893 pence at 8:06 a.m. in London. Shares have declined for four days.

Rolls joins other aerospace companies that have been the subject of corruption probes, including BAE Systems Plc and European Aeronautic, Defence & Space Co., which is under investigation by the U.K. over dealings in Saudi Arabia.

“Neither I nor the board will tolerate improper business conduct of any sort and will take all necessary action to ensure compliance,” Rolls-Royce Chief Executive Officer John Rishton said last month when the company made the concerns public.

Gold’s review will examine compliance procedures across the company. It follows an investigation last year by law firm Debevoise & Plimpton LLP after concerns about misdeeds were raised. Rolls has provided findings to the SFO.

Dick Taylor, a former Rolls-Royce employee in Asia, has said sales of commercial jet engines in Indonesia were spurred by bribes. The Sunday Times said Jan. 6 that turbine sales to Air China and China Eastern may also have been subject to illegal payments.

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