Dec 7, 2018

Tesco acquittals set to curb corporate plea deals

White-collar crime lawyers say the latest acquittals may make companies more reluctant to strike a deal if the SFO is having difficulty securing convictions. In a speech in London in November, Hannah von Dadelszen, head of fraud at the SFO, said DPAs were "Designed to encourage corporates to undertake ethical corporate behaviour . . . A corporate can choose to be open, honest and transparent [or] can choose to play a game of smoke and mirrors." Jeremy Summers, head of business crime at law firm Osborne Clarke, says the Tesco acquittals are not likely to encourage other companies to self-report to the authorities. Under Richard Alderman, SFO director from 2008-2012, the agency was frequently criticised for striking cosy, opaque deals with companies by encouraging them to admit to overseas corruption in exchange for leniency in civil settlements. The Tesco case is unusual, in that it centred on fraud - an offence that still requires proof of a "Directing mind" to secure a company's conviction.

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