£22m paid in Britain’s first DPA fine
A FORMER London-based branch of a South African bank will pay £22m to settle bribery allegations as part of the UK’s first ever deferred prosecution agreement (DPA).
DPAs are special plea bargains allowing prosecutors to suspend a prosecution for an agreed period of time, and then drop it. In return, companies agree to pay a fine, repay their ill-gotten gains and help with the prosecution of individuals.
Executives at South Africa’s Standard Bank have been investigated by the Serious Fraud Office over a bribe paid in 2013 to Tanzanian officials. The illegal payment was made to secure a lucrative deal to advise on a £400m fundraising by the Tanzanian government, initiated to finance electricity, water and other infrastructure projects.
The London unit at the centre of the scandal was acquired by the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC). It was involved in the negotiations.
As part of its £22m settlement, Standard Bank – now known as ICBC Standard Bank – will have to pay £4.7m in compensation to the Tanzanian government.
High Court judge Brian Leveson – more widely known for his inquiry into the media after the phone hacking scandal – formally approved the UK’s first DPA in the high court yesterday.
SFO boss David Green has revealed he hopes to secure another DPA with an unnamed firm by the end of the year.
A number of UK banks, including HSBC and Standard Chartered, have signed DPAs in the US for scandals ranging from sanctions-busting to money laundering.