18 Jan 2017

Rolls-Royce settlement largest imposed by SFO

The Serious Fraud Office is playing in the big leagues as it imposes its largest ever bribery penalty.

Jordan Tan

British engineering company Rolls-Royce has been fined £671m to settle corruption cases with UK and US authorities. The settlement comes after the Serious Fraud Office found evidence of  conspiracy to corrupt or failure to prevent bribery in seven countries- Indonesia, Thailand, India, Russia, Nigeria, China and Malaysia. Rolls-Royce will aslso pay $170m (£141m) to the US Justice Department, and a further $26m (£21.5m) to Brazilian regulators. The company's lawyer, David Perry, told the court that it had undergone a "fundamental change" since the investigations began, overhauling systems, training, governance and ethics strategies.

Largest penalty levied by SFO

Commenting on the case, Robert Amaee, partner at Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, said: 'This is the third and most significant DPA secured by the SFO.  It is by far the largest penalty that has ever been levied by the SFO in a bribery matter, and the first time that the UK’s portion of the global settlement is higher than that of the US.  With this DPA, the SFO is now playing in the big leagues.’


Debevoise & Plimpton LLP advised Rolls-Royce plc (Rolls-Royce) in its Deferred Prosecution Agreement (DPA) with the UK’s Serious Fraud Office (SFO), which was confirmed in open court by the President of the Queen’s Bench Division (Sir Brian Leveson). The firm also advised Rolls-Royce as it reached a DPA with the US Department of Justice (DoJ) and a Leniency Agreement with Brazil’s Ministério Público Federal (MPF). Debevoise was engaged by Rolls-Royce in early 2012 to assist with enquiries from the SFO and to lead the subsequent internal investigations. The firm then jointly advised Rolls-Royce alongside Slaughter and May on the investigations by the SFO and the DoJ as well as the subsequent coordinated resolution with the SFO, DoJ and the Brazilian Ministério Público Federal. Brazilian firm FeldensMadruga also advised. The Debevoise team was led by London partner Karolos Seeger and New York partner Bruce E. Yannett, and included senior associates Ivona Josipovic and Thomas Jenkins.