Britain’s Serious Fraud Office (SFO) has dumped its investigation of some individuals linked with Rolls-Royce Holdings, it said on Monday, tapering the number of suspects in a long-running bribery probe. Those individuals are not assumed to include Sir John Rose, Rolls-Royce’s last chief executive, who is said to be one of the numerous people who remain within the range of the SFO’s inquiry. There is no suggestion of wrongdoing on Sir John’s part. Rolls-Royce entered into a deferred prosecution agreement (DPA) with the SFO in January 2017 after four years of inquiry into bribery and corruption. It was directed to pay a settlement of £497.25m plus interest, as well as the Serious Fraud Office SFO’s costs of £13m.
Rolls-Royce said on Monday it “continues to liaise fully with the authorities, including ongoing co-operation as the SFO follows inquiries into individuals. We note the newest action taken by the SFO, but will not comment on individual cases”. “Some individuals were informed that they are no longer suspects in the Rolls-Royce investigation,” the SFO said on Monday. The company has been inspected by British, U.S. and Brazilian authorities into alleged criminal conduct covering three decades, at least seven authorities and three of the company’s business sectors. The SFO accounted for the lion’s share of the financial cost to Rolls-Royce, with the UK settlement totaling more than £510m and the overall bill amounting to £671m. The case against Rolls-Royce was one of a number of high-profile “blockbuster” cases secured under the tenure of former director David Green.
Rolls-Royce said it notes the latest action taken by the SFO and that it remains to co-operate fully with authorities pursuing investigations into individuals. According to the deferred prosecution contract, evidence of corruption was found in its civil aerospace, military and former energy trades over a period of more than 20 years, while the UK accusations stretched back as far as 1989 and ran to 2013. Lisa Osofsky, who took over as SFO director last year, told the Commons justice committee in December that she was personally reviewing the evidence in more than 70 cases, to see why it was taking so long to settle investigations and reach decisions on charging companies and individuals.
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