Tackling economic crime in the UK – The Economic Crime and Corporate Transparency Bill

A new bill to tackle economic crime is currently progressing through the legislative process. The Economic Crime and Corporate Transparency bill (the Bill) was first laid on 22 September 2022 and is expected to receive royal assent in the coming weeks. Whilst the Bill remains subject to change as it continues to pass through Parliament, its key provisions are likely to remain relatively similar. Continue reading

Do companies have a moral duty to self-report to the SFO?

Herbert Smith Freehills’ Corporate Crime and Investigations team has contributed to the Global Investigations Review. The article, ‘Do companies have a moral duty to self-report to the SFO?‘ considers the recent SFO case involving Amec Foster Wheeler (Amec) and argues that while the corporate bribery settlement has not introduced any legal obligation to self-report wrongdoing to the Serious Fraud Office, the judgment does encourage companies to seriously consider their moral and ethical duties when deciding whether to do so. Continue reading

SFO Secures Two Further DPAs

On 19 July 2021, the High Court approved two separate deferred prosecution agreements (the “DPAs”) between the UK Serious Fraud Office (“SFO”) and two UK-based companies (the “Companies”) for active participation in, and failure to prevent, bribery pursuant to sections 1 and 7 of the Bribery Act 2010 (read the SFO press release here). Continue reading

Ten Not Out! – SFO Secures Its Tenth DPA (Amec Foster Wheeler Energy Ltd)

On 1 July 2021, coincidentally the tenth anniversary of the UK’s Bribery Act coming into force, the UK’s tenth deferred prosecution agreement (“DPA”) was approved between the UK Serious Fraud Office (“SFO”) and Amec Foster Wheeler Energy Limited (“AFWEL”), a UK-based global engineering company (read the SFO press release here). This concludes the SFO’s four-year investigation of the legacy Foster Wheeler and Amec Foster Wheeler businesses. The DPA was previously agreed in principle at a private hearing held on 25 June 2021 before Lord Justice Edis, sitting at the Royal Courts of Justice (see details of the private hearing here). Continue reading

The collapse of the SFO’s prosecution of former Serco executives: lessons for corporates

On 26 April 2021, the prosecution by the Serious Fraud Office (the “SFO“) of fraud charges against two former directors of Serco Geografix Limited (“Serco“) collapsed. The SFO offered no evidence against the defendants, and the presiding judge directed the jury to return verdicts of not guilty. This happened after it became apparent that the SFO had failed to disclose to the defendants certain relevant materials, rendering it unsafe for the prosecution to proceed. The SFO’s statement on the matter confirmed that it was “considering how best to undertake an assessment to prevent this from happening in the future”. Continue reading

Supreme Court judgment in the KBR v SFO appeal – limits to extraterritorial impact of the SFO’s document compulsion powers

On 5 February 2021, the Supreme Court handed down judgment in a keenly anticipated case concerning the scope of extraterritorial application of the SFO’s section 2 powers, R (on the application of KBR, Inc) (Appellant) v Director of the Serious Fraud Office (Respondent) [2021] UKSC 2 (“KBR v SFO”). Continue reading

Supreme Court hands down judgment in SFO’s case concerning the extraterritoriality of section 2 powers – Appeal of KBR is allowed

The Supreme Court has today handed down judgment in the case of R (on the application of KBR, Inc) (Appellant) v Director of the Serious Fraud Office (Respondent) [2021] UKSC 2 concerning whether the Serious Fraud Office (“SFO”) can require a foreign company to produce documents held overseas, pursuant to its investigation powers under section 2(3) of the Criminal Justice Act 1987 (“CJA”). Continue reading

A deep dive into DPAs: seven takeaways from the new DPA guidance in the SFO’s Operational Handbook

In October 2020 the SFO published guidance regarding Deferred Prosecution Agreements (“DPAs”) in a new chapter of its Operational Handbook. The guidance offers a practical step-by-step map to the route that the SFO, and, therefore, a target company and its advisers, will traverse where seeking to negotiate an outcome that avoids the need for prosecution. Continue reading

Ministry of Justice publishes its Response to the Call for Evidence on Corporate Liability for Economic Crime

On 3 November 2020, the Ministry of Justice published its response (the “Government’s Response”) to its Call for Evidence on corporate liability for economic crime which was launched in January 2017 and ran until March 2017 (the “Call for Evidence”). The Government’s Response has been long awaited but does not reach any definitive conclusion on the way forward for reform. Continue reading