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SFO releases draft code for deferred prosecution agreements

The U.K. Serious Fraud Office Thursday released the draft Code of Practice for the use of deferred prosecution agreements.

A 21-page document sets out the proposed rules for prosecutors and seeks comments from the public.

The SFO said it expects DPAs to go into use by February 2014.

The pre-trial agreements will be available only to companies and not individuals, the SFO said. And their use — restricted for fraud, bribery, and other economic crimes — will be fully transparent public events supervised by a judge.

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Here’s the full June 27 release from the SFO:

The Director of the Serious Fraud Office and Director of Public Prosecutions today published a draft Code of Practice setting out their approach to the use of Deferred Prosecution Agreements (DPAs).

This new tool was introduced in the Crime and Courts Act 2013, which received Royal Assent in April this year.

A DPA involves a company reaching an agreement with a prosecutor where the company is charged with a criminal offence but proceedings are automatically suspended. The company agrees to a number of conditions, which may include payment of a financial penalty, payment of compensation, and co-operation with future prosecutions of individuals. If the conditions are not honoured, the prosecution may resume.

DPAs may be used for fraud, bribery and other economic crime. They apply to organisations, not individuals. A DPA could be appropriate where the public interest is not best served by mounting a prosecution. Entering into a DPA will be a transparent public event and the process will be supervised by a judge.

The Directors seek views on eight points covered in the draft Code, including the circumstances when a prosecutor should consider a DPA, the criteria to apply when making this decision, and on the disclosure approach envisaged.

Comments are welcome from interested individuals and organisations. The consultation closes on Friday 20 September 2013. The consultation document is available here.

Notes to Editors

Interested individuals and organisations can respond to this consultation by using this form and emailing it to the DPA team at the Serious Fraud Office ([email protected]) or by post to:

DPA Team
Serious Fraud Office
2-4 Cockspur Street
London SW1Y 5BS

Consultations are also being issued separately by the Sentencing Council and the Criminal Procedure Rules Committee on other aspects of DPA implementation and the sentencing of organisations for economic crimes.

The Sentencing Council consultation can be accessed here and the Criminal Procedure Rule Committee consultation can be viewed at this link.

The Government announced plans to introduce DPAs in October 2012 – click here to view news release. It is expected the tool will become available to prosecutors from February 2014.

The Serious Fraud Office is a government department responsible for investigating and prosecuting serious and complex fraud.  The SFO is headed by the Director who exercises powers under the superintendence of the Attorney General. These powers are derived from the Criminal Justice Act (1987).

For further information please call the SFO Press Office on 020 7239 7000/7004 or email [email protected]

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