The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) announced Thursday it has closed its bribery and corruption investigation into the activities of U.S. engineering services company KBR’s British subsidiaries and employees, weeks after the U.K. Supreme Court unanimously ruled the agency breached its authority in the case.
The decision to end the probe followed “a thorough investigation of the available evidence,” the SFO said. “The evidence in this case did not meet the evidential test as defined in the Code for Crown Prosecutors.”
The SFO in 2017 began investigating the U.K. arm of KBR as part of a larger probe into the activities of Unaoil. The KPR subsidiaries cooperated and provided the SFO with documents held in the United Kingdom.
However, the SFO then attempted to force the U.S. parent company to produce documents held outside the United Kingdom using Section 2(3) of the Criminal Justice Act 1987 (known as a “Section 2 notice”) or face criminal sanction. That’s when KBR applied for judicial review to quash the notice over concerns the agency was exceeding its powers by being overtly extraterritorial when it had no jurisdiction to do so.
In February, the U.K. Supreme Court unanimously agreed with KBR. What the SFO should have done is sought to request mutual legal assistance from U.S. authorities—as it has the power to do—to obtain the necessary documents, the five judges said.
SFO Director Lisa Osofsky said the court’s decision was “welcome” by the agency in a speech earlier this week.