On January 17, Rolls-Royce plc (Rolls-Royce), a UK-based manufacturer and distributor for the civil aerospace, defense aerospace, marine, and energy sectors worldwide, agreed to pay nearly $170 million to the DOJ to resolve charges that it conspired to violate the anti-bribery provisions of the FCPA around the world. The settlement with the DOJ (via a three-year deferred prosecution agreement (DPA)), was a fraction of the company’s $800 million global resolution in connection with bribes paid to government officials in exchange for government contracts in China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Nigeria, Russia, Thailand, Brazil, Kazahkstan, Azerbaijan, Angola, and Iraq.
In addition to settling with the DOJ, the company resolved charges with the UK SFO by entering into a DPA and agreeing to pay a fine of $604,808,392. Rolls-Royce entered into a leniency agreement with the Brazilian Ministério Público Federal (MPF) and agreed to pay a penalty of $25,579,170.
According to the DPA Statement of Facts, Rolls Royce admitted that between 2000 and 2013, it conspired to violate the anti-bribery provisions of the FCPA by paying more than $35 million in bribes to foreign officials in exchange for confidential information and/or government contracts. Many of these contracts benefited RRESI, Rolls Royce’s indirect U.S. subsidiary. Rolls Royce made the majority of the bribes by inflating commission payments to third-party intermediaries, who then paid part of the commission as bribes to government officials.
The DOJ lauded Rolls Royce’s cooperation in its investigation and as a result, Rolls Royce received a 25 percent reduction from the low end of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines fine range due. However, the DOJ refused to award the company any voluntary disclosure credit. The DOJ has been transparent that it only will award voluntary disclosure credit when the disclosure occurs prior to an imminent threat of disclosure or government investigation. Here, that test was not satisfied because the company did not disclose the conduct until after media reports and the related SFO inquiry began.