LONDON (Reuters) – The UK’s top fraud prosecutor has thrown her weight behind American-style corporate plea bargains amid criticism that they can allow companies to admit wrongdoing without leading to successful prosecutions of individuals.
Lisa Osofsky, an Anglo-American former FBI lawyer now in charge at the Serious Fraud Office (SFO), said the use of deferred prosecution agreements (DPAs) was effective in ensuring companies clean up their act – and was still in its infancy.
DPA - System - Disrepute - Way - Shape
“I don’t think the DPA system is in disrepute in any way, shape or form,” she told Reuters in an interview.
Retailer Tesco and aero-engines group Rolls-Royce agreed DPAs with the SFO in 2017, paying fines of 129 million pounds and nearly 500 million pounds ($650 million) over an accounting and a bribery scandal respectively.
Plea - Bargains - Feature - US - System
Plea bargains are a common feature of the U.S. legal system but have only been used in Britain since 2015. They allow companies to avoid criminal prosecution in a court-approved deal that often includes a fine and compliance monitoring. Since Osofosky took up her post at the end of last August, a re-trial of former Tesco directors collapsed and she has closed an investigation into individuals linked to the Rolls-Royce case.
Osofsky says even if there is not enough evidence to prosecute individuals over the misconduct outlined in DPAs, they still serve an important purpose. “Corporates (are run) by individuals....
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