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In Focus Risk


A new broom or old problems?


Is the SFO’s decision to scale down its investigation into Rolls-Royce a well-informed move or a sign of panic?


Rahman Ravelli Senior partner, Aziz Rahman


The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) has finally stopped investigating a number of former Rolls-Royce employees in connection with the bribery and corruption scandal that has been rumbling on for many years. A shrewd decision based on available


evidence? Or the frightened actions of an organisation that appears to be treading a tightrope, especially considering the mauling it took in court just a matter of weeks ago on another high-profile investigation? Neither


Why has it taken so long to reach this conclusion? And why have decisions not yet been made regarding all the suspects? Surely there has been enough time to make those decisions


option can be ruled out. But questions need to be asked about the SFO’s handling of Rolls-Royce.


The case Let us just look back at the Rolls-Royce case. Two years ago, the SFO entered into a deferred prosecution agreement (DPA) with Rolls-Royce, with the company paying a total bill of £671m for bribery and corruption in at least seven countries. The DPA ensured that Rolls-Royce, as a


company, was not prosecuted, but it did not mean that individual staff members could not be charged. But here we are, two years after the DPA


and more than six years after the SFO first began investigations, and nobody has been charged – and only now are a number of suspects being told they are no longer under investigation.


Enough time Why has it taken so long to reach this conclusion? And why have decisions not yet been made regarding all the suspects? Surely there has been enough time to make those decisions. Staunch defenders of the SFO would say


it has concluded its enquiries and decided there is no mileage in pursuing certain individuals. That may well be true. But I cannot help thinking that this decision may


38 www.CCRMagazine.com February 2019


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