#UK A major South African bank has been fined £22 million in a bribery scandal

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A former unit of Standard Bank, one of South Africa’s biggest lenders, has agreed to pay almost $33 million (£22 million) in fines and compensation for failing to prevent a bribery scandal in Tanzania.

The case is the first deferred prosecution agreement in the UK. It’s a procedure borrowed from the US that allows prosecutors to suspend a prosecution if the company pays a fine and helps the investigators pursue the individuals responsible. 

David Green, director of the Serious Fraud Office, said: “This landmark DPA will serve as a template for future agreements. The judgment from Lord Justice Leveson provides very helpful guidance to those advising corporates. It also endorses the SFO’s contention that the DPA in this case was in the interests of justice and its terms fair, reasonable and proportionate. I applaud Standard Bank for their frankness with the SFO and their prompt and early engagement with us.”

The case involves the bank’s work in 2011 and 2012 on the Tanzanian government’s $600 million sovereign debt placing to fund investments in the country’s infrastructure.

The Standard Bank unit paid $6 million to a company run by Tanzania’s head of tax collection after it won a role to work on the debt placing, and was accused of failing to prevent bribery under the Bribery Act 2010.

Satindar Dogra, a dispute resolution partner at Linklaters said: “This case illustrates that for a company seeking a DPA the bar is likely to be set very high in terms of cooperation.”

“The judge was plainly impressed that the bank had filed its self-report to the authorities before its internal investigation had even started, and that the events in question might otherwise have remained unknown to the SFO,” Dogra said.

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