29 Oct 2012 | 10:01 am | 1 min. read
• An incentive for corporates to clear skeletons out of the closet The UK Government’s proposals for US-style Deferred Prosecution Agreements (DPAs) announced today should provide a powerful weapon in the fight against white collar crime, says Pinsent Masons, the international law firm.
DPAs act as a plea bargain, and will allow companies to publicly admit past wrong-doing while paying penalties, undertaking internal reforms, or agreeing to external monitoring, in exchange for immunity from prosecution (unless they breach the terms of the DPA).
Barry Vitou, Partner and white collar crime expert at Pinsent Masons comments: “DPAs offer a better way of dealing with corporate wrongdoing and for businesses to resolve their criminal exposure. The present choice, either to prosecute, or not, is deeply unsophisticated.”
“The potential upside for ethical corporations is clear - hand over the bad apples themselves and corporates could avoid multi-million pound fines and public trials – with all the extremely damaging publicity that brings with it.”
“If DPAs can be implemented properly then the SFO could benefit from a dividend as businesses clear the skeletons out of the closet and come forward about past crimes that they have uncovered.”
Barry Vitou continues: “The SFO is under pressure to perform but to do that it needs the tools to do the job properly – DPAs should go a long way to help.”
“DPAs also have the advantage of penalising companies, enabling swifter restitution and rehabilitation, and reducing the risks to innocent directors, employees, and stakeholders.”
The Ministry of Justice hopes that DPAs will incentivise self-reporting for two reasons:
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