ICBC Standard Bank has become the recipient of Britain's first deferred prosecution agreement, the U.K. Serious Fraud Office announced today. The bank will pay a total of $32.6 million in fines and repayments of bribery payments resulting from allegations of bribery in Tanzania.
In February 2014, the SFO began allowing DPAs, which offer companies the opportunity for negotiated resolutions to corporate crime convictions in some cases, rather than criminal prosecutions. In exchange, the company must pay fines, in addition to repaying any related profits.
Standard Bank was the subject of an indictment alleging failure to prevent bribery in violation of Section 7 of the Bribery Act, which establishes liability for companies with a U.K. presence that fail to prevent acts of bribery around the world—marking the first time that any prosecutor used Section 7 of the Bribery Act. The SFO said the indictment was immediately suspended, pursuant to the DPA proceedings.
“This landmark DPA will serve as a template for future agreements,” SFO Director David Green said in a statement. The judgment from Lord Justice Brian Leveson at Southwark Crown Court “endorses the SFO’s contention that the DPA in this case was in the interests of justice and its terms fair, reasonable and proportionate,” he said.
The DPA is the result of a US$6 million payment made in March 2013 by a former sister company of Standard Bank, Stanbic Bank Tanzania, to a local partner in Tanzania, Enterprise Growth Market Advisors (EGMA). The SFO alleged that this payment was intended to induce members of the Tanzanian government to show favor to Stanbic Tanzania and Standard Bank’s proposal for a US$600 million private placement to be carried out on behalf of the Tanzanian government. The placement generated transaction fees of US$8.4 million, shared by Stanbic Tanzania and Standard Bank.
In April 2013, Standard Bank’s solicitors Jones Day reported the matter to the Serious and Organized Crime Agency and the SFO, which instructed Jones Day to begin an investigation and to disclose its findings to the SFO. The resulting report was sent to the SFO in July 2014. The SFO said it reviewed the material obtained and conducted its own interviews, ultimately finding that “the public interest would likely be met by a DPA with Standard Bank and negotiations were commenced accordingly,” SFO said.
As a result of the DPA, Standard Bank will pay financial penalties of USD$25.2 million and will be required to pay the government of Tanzania an additional USD$7 million. The bank has also agreed to pay the SFO’s reasonable costs of £330,000 in connection with the investigation and subsequent resolution of the DPA.
In addition to the financial penalty, Standard Bank has agreed to continue to cooperate fully with the SFO and to be subject to an independent review of its existing anti-bribery and corruption controls, policies and procedures regarding compliance with the Bribery Act and other applicable anti-corruption laws. It must also implement recommendations of its independent reviewer, PwC.
In reaching a resolution, the SFO acknowledged the assistance of the U.S. Department of Justice, Securities and Exchange Commission, and the U.K. Financial Conduct Authority. In addition, Standard Chartered reached a $4.2 million settlement with the SEC.