UK’s top fraud prosecutor backs U.S.-style plea bargaining deals

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 folks.

Lisa Osofsky, an Anglo-American former FBI lawyer now under control for the Serious Fraud Office (SFO), said the utilization of deferred prosecution agreements (DPAs) was efficient at ensuring companies cleanup their act – and continued to be in the infancy.

"I don't think the DPA product is in disrepute in any respect, shape or form," she told Reuters inside an interview.

Retailer Tesco (LON:TSCO) and aero-engines group Rolls-Royce (LON:RR) agreed DPAs with all the SFO in 2019, paying fines of 129 million pounds and nearly 500 million pounds ($650 million) over a bookkeeping in addition to a bribery scandal respectively.

Plea bargains can be a common feature with the U.S. legal system but have only been applied to Britain since 2019. They enable companies to stop criminal prosecution inside of a court-approved deal very often includes a fine and compliance monitoring. Since Osofosky began her post right after last August, a re-trial of former Tesco directors collapsed and she or he has closed an investigation into individuals of this particular Rolls-Royce case.

Osofsky says even when there isnt enough evidence to prosecute individuals within the misconduct outlined in DPAs, they still serve a major purpose. "Corporates (are run) by individuals. But how do you reprimand, discipline, punish bad corporate behavior…?

" (cases against companies and the) as two varies greatly things and I think the role with the DPA is to make perfectly sure that the business engages with prosecutors, comes forward and cleans up its act." NO 'EXISTENTIAL THREAT' Prosecuting white collar crime is notoriously tricky, time-consuming and costly. This has long spawned speculation how the SFO, tasked with investigating and prosecuting probably the most complex corruption, might be rolled in a broader crime fighting force. But Osofsky says she feels my wife support from her political paymasters. "I signed a 5-year contract that claims they want me here," she said. "Whatever existential threat the organization may have felt it turned out under … I don't feel one whiff of that". She declined to be drawn into whether she might close numerous 70 cases she inherited, including high-profile investigations into miner Rio Tinto (LON:RIO), European aerospace group Airbus, British American Tobacco (LON:BATS), Tata Steel and miner ENRC. But she said meaningful cases don't must involve huge companies. She highlighted a solar panel energy scam, where in 2009 six men were sentenced with a total higher than 3 decades in jail for just a 17 million pound fraud on 1,500 often elderly, retired and vulnerable people. "That, if you ask me, is a massive case," she said.

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