Voluntary payments will mean UK manufacturing giant avoids being prosecuted by anti-corruption investigators. Rolls-Royce, Britain’s leading multinational manufacturer, is to pay £671m in penalties after long-running investigations into claims it paid bribes to land export contracts.
The settlement means the engineering giant will avoid being prosecuted by anti-corruption investigators in the UK, US and Brazil, though individual executives may still be charged.
It comes five years after investigators across three continents first began examining claims that the £13bn multinational had paid bribes to secure contracts in countries around the world.
Last year a joint Guardian and BBC Panorama investigation identified 12 countries in which Rolls-Royce had hired “commercial agents” or advisers to help it secure high-value contracts.
Anti-corruption campaigners said the deal showed the British government was not serious about tackling bribery, despite years of rhetoric promising to make the UK a hostile environment for the corrupt.
Susan Hawley, the policy director of Corruption Watch, described the settlement as “proof the UK is not willing to prosecute a large, politically connected company”.
Robert Barrington, the executive director of Transparency International, said “there must be a prosecution of individuals” in addition to the settlement.
In deals announced on Monday, Rolls-Royce said it would pay £497m to the UK Serious Fraud Office (SFO), subject to approval by the high court. It will also pay $169m (£140m) in penalties to the US Department of Justice and $25m to the Brazilian authorities.
The terms of the agreement with the SFO are to be examined on Tuesday by Sir Brian Leveson QC, the president of the Queen’s bench division of the high court. Under the proposed deal, known as a deferred prosecution agreement (DPA), Rolls-Royce will pay the penalties over five years, along with a payment covering the SFO’s costs.
Rolls-Royce announced that it reached separate deals with the US Department of Justice and Brazilian prosecutors. It added: “These agreements relate to bribery and corruption involving intermediaries in a number of overseas markets, concerns about which the company passed to the SFO from 2012 onwards.