Former Rolls-Royce CEO Rose Said to Be Interviewed by SFO

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  • John Rose interviewed by the Serious Fraud Office last year
  • Prosecutor questioned a number of senior personnel before DPA

Former Rolls-Royce Holdings Plc Chief Executive Officer John Rose was interviewed by U.K. prosecutors shortly before the jet-engine maker agreed to pay about 670 million pounds ($837 million) to resolve a bribery probe spanning three decades of misconduct, according to a person with knowledge of the situation.

Rose was one of a number of former executives interviewed under caution by the U.K. Serious Fraud Office at the end of last year, said the person, who didn’t want to be identified because the investigation is private. Interviews under caution are generally conducted with possible suspects and mean that anything a person says can be used in court.

Rolls entered into deferred prosecution agreements with U.K. and U.S. authorities last month. Under both, the company avoids prosecution as long as it abides by the terms of the settlement, which include the fine and assisting in the prosecution of any individuals. The global pact also contained a pledge to pay $25.5 million to Brazilian authorities.

The 12-count British indictment, which has been suspended for the term of the DPA, contains details of how Rolls employees paid bribes to intermediaries and foreign officials to win tenders in seven countries, including Russia, India and Nigeria. The DPA also said some allegations of corruption that came to light in 2010, when Rose was CEO, weren’t disclosed to authorities. Rose led the company from 1996 to 2011.

“Starting in 2013, Rolls-Royce also voluntarily supplied to the SFO reports in respect of its internal investigations into its energy, defense, civil, and marine businesses,” according to court documents related to the DPA. “It included written reports revealing further corruption indications and a report concerning conduct Rolls-Royce had known about since 2010 and previously (under different leadership) decided not to notify.”

A lawyer for Rose and a spokesman for the SFO declined to comment. A spokesman for Rolls said the company is "committed to full ongoing cooperation with the authorities." Rose’s interview was first reported by the Financial Times.

The settlement was a boost for current CEO Warren East, who can concentrate on turning around the ailing engine-maker. But Standard & Poor’s downgraded Rolls credit rating to three levels above junk a week after the accord in light of the fines. The aircraft engine-maker’s long-term investment rating was dropped to BBB+ from A-.

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