Posted by Claus Andersen, Partner
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Bank strikes landmark deal with SFO
Officials at the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) have agreed a deferred prosecution deal with ICBC Standard Bank.
The arrangement, which is the first of its kind, will see the institution pay $16.8million in fines.
The settlement, which was reached following allegations of failing to prevent bribery in Tanzania, has opened the door for the watchdog to strike similar deals in future.
The deferred prosecution agreements (DPAs) were implemented just over 18 months ago and allow the authorities to suspend prosecution for an agreed period and then withdraw it.
In return, the company facing allegations of wrongdoing must pay a penalty, repay related profits and assist with any subsequent prosecution of any individuals involved.
SFO believes that it will have finalised a second DPA before the year comes to an end.
The department is at present conducting investigations into a significant number of large, listed companies. While several of those facing probes are apparently considering DPAs, some experts are sceptical about how many will take the option, given the extent of co-operation required to qualify for a deal.
The case involving ICBC is also noteworthy as it is the first time that section 7 of the Bribery Act – the offence of failure to prevent a bribe – has been successfully used.
No allegation of knowing participation in bribery was made against ICBC or its employees.
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