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03 Dec 2015

Jessica Parker comments on UK’s first DPA and benefits of confidentiality in The Times

Six months ago Ben Morgan, the Serious Fraud Office’s joint head of bribery and corruption, announced that the “first invitation letters” had been issued giving companies the opportunity to enter into ‘deferred prosecution agreement’ (DPA) negotiations.Since, speculation has grown about the addressees of those letters and who would carve their name (somewhat ingloriously) in legal history as the first “beneficiary” of this new regime.

On Monday we had the answer when Sir Brian Leveson, sitting in the Royal Courts of Justice, approved a DPA between the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) and Standard Bank Plc (now known as ICBC Standard Bank Plc), which had been the subject of an indictment alleging failure to prevent bribery contrary to the Bribery Act 2010.

In effect, as Jessica Parker, of Corker Binning, puts it, to get a DPA a company will have to to turn itself in and then unearth all the evidence to prove itself guilty.

It remains unpredictable, though, whether a DPA would be necessarily available. But reporting wrong-doing has its own advantages, says Jessica Parker. “It was notable that the Standard Bank investigation had remained confidential. This is a significant advantage of this type of negotiated justice.” The publicity surrounding conduct is substantially reduced compared with a full investigation and prosecution.

Read the full article in The Times here.