U.K. Prosecutor Promises More Company Plea Bargain Deals ‘Soon’

  • SFO director Green looks to complete high-profile cases
  • SFO to work with violators, global agencies in ‘sensible way’

The director of the U.K. Serious Fraud Office said there will be more corporate plea deals "soon" as he looks to conclude a number of high-profile investigations.

"As we do more deferred prosecution agreements -- and don’t worry, we will be doing some more fairly soon” -- the SFO will continue to look at incentives such as reduced fines, David Green said Monday at the C5 anti-corruption conference in London. "I would like conclusions one way or the other in the major investigations that I have started.”

The SFO entered into its first plea bargain agreement in November with ICBC Standard Bank Plc, which saw the company pay about $33 million to resolve an investigation into bribery at its former Tanzanian unit. Under a DPA, prosecution is suspended if the company agrees to conditions that can include paying a fine, repaying profits, and helping bring cases against individuals. DPAs are a common enforcement tool in the U.S. but were only introduced in the U.K. in 2014.

Green’s comments come two months into his second term as director. Since his 2012 start, Green has opened investigations into several prominent global companies and institutions, including Rolls Royce Holdings Plc, Barclays Plc and the Bank of England. His second term ends in 2018. 

While acknowledging that some companies may be reluctant to report violations because of the threat of multiple probes around the world, Green said the agency tries to coordinate with prosecutors and regulators around the world "in a sensible way." Still, it isn’t the SFO’s job to “smooth” a violator’s path in other jurisdictions, he said.

In the U.S., the Justice Department introduced a year-long pilot program in April to give incentives to companies to disclose violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. Under the program, a company that voluntarily and quickly discloses an infraction and cooperates with the government will be eligible to receive a 50 percent discount on the bottom end of the applicable sentence.

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