Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg

‘Significant’ Corporate Plea Deals Coming, U.K. Prosecutor Says

  • Serious Fraud Office Director in front of parliament committee
  • SFO has issued two deferred prosecution agreements to date

The U.K. Serious Fraud Office is planning to secure some "significant" corporate plea deals soon as the agency looks to resolve a number of high-profile investigations.

"You will see over the coming months some significant deferred prosecution agreements," David Green told a parliamentary committee Tuesday. Under a DPA, prosecution is suspended if a company agrees to certain conditions including paying a fine, repaying profits, and helping bring cases against individuals.

DPAs were first introduced in the U.K. in 2014 in an effort to provide prosecutors a wider set of tools in corporate probes. The SFO has entered into two DPAs since then, the first of which was issued in November against ICBC Standard Bank Plc to resolve an investigation into bribery at its former Tanzanian unit. A number of companies being looked at by the SFO are considered candidates for a settlement agreement including Tesco Plc, which is under investigation over its accounting practices.

Other companies under investigation by the SFO include Rolls-Royce Holdings Plc, Barclays Plc and GlaxoSmithKline Plc.

Green also said that the agency was looking into a new line of inquiry in its investigation into U.K. security company G4S Plc and services firm Serco Group Plc. The SFO opened a criminal investigation into the companies’ electric tagging contracts three years ago amid allegations they’d overcharged the government by millions of pounds, billing for criminals that had moved abroad, returned to prison, or even died.

"The investigation continues and embraces conduct which is different from that which originally drew it to our attention," said Green.

Asked about the effect of the U.K.’s decision to leave the European Union on the SFO, particularly in relation to government funding, Green said he "can’t imagine that Brexit would interfere with the traditional independence of English prosecutors."

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