18 May 2012

Companies engaged in financial crime get 'plea-bargain' offer

Companies engaged in financial crime may be able to negotiate plea bargains under legislation being put forward by the Ministry of Justice.

Jonathan RussellBy The department yesterday published a consultation on a new law allowing companies to self-report their involvement in financial crime. The long-awaited step is the first in a process that should lead to the introduction of US-style deferred prosecution agreements.
Solicitor General Edward Garnier QC said: "If we can encourage companies to self-report and come clean, pay penalties and mend their ways, the time and expense of investigations and prosecutions will be better spent elsewhere, enabling us to bring more individuals and companies to justice."
Under the new law companies that self-report could see prosecutions deferred pending payment of a fine and agreements to change working practices.
Barry Vitou, partner at law firm Pinsent Masons said: "Under the regime at the end of the deferral period, the prosecutor is satisfied the organisation has fulfilled its obligations, there is no prosecution on the charges laid.
"If, on the other hand, the commercial organisation fails to meet its obligations, further penalties are available and the original criminal proceedings could be revived."


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