SFO v. Olympus: application of the offence of misleading the auditors

As we reported in an earlier bulletin, on 10 November, the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) presented no evidence at a hearing in its case against Olympus Corporation ("Olympus") and its wholly owned UK subsidiary, Gyrus Group Ltd ("Gyrus").  This brought to an end the SFO's prosecution in respect of the accounting scandal which had engulfed the Olympus Group from late 2011.  The companies had been charged under s501(1) of the Companies Act 2006 with misleading Gyrus' auditors in respect of its 2009 and 2010 audit process, but a judgment at first instance, upheld on appeal, had ruled that s501(1) did not apply to the company itself under audit or its parent company, and that the criminal proceedings were "inevitably doomed as a matter of law".

Our briefing, examines the reasoning in the case, which may have implications for the approach taken to future matters, including those currently under investigation by the SFO.

SFO orders convicted printing company to pay £2.2 million

The SFO has ordered UK printing company Smith and Ouzman to pay £2.2 million following a conviction for making corrupt payments to public officials for business contracts in Kenya and Mauritania.  The conviction and sentencing relates to offences under the pre-Bribery Act legislation, and follows a four year investigation by the SFO.

Court of Appeal ruling on bribery of foreign agents

The Court of Appeal has handed down a decision confirming that the Prevention of Corruption Act 1906 applies to the bribery of foreign agents. At first instance it was held that prior to the Anti-terrorism, Crime  and Security Act 2001 it was not a criminal offence in the UK to corrupt the agent of a foreign principal under the Prevention of Corruption Act 1906. The Appeal against this ruling was upheld with the Court of Appeal noting that the 2001 amendments were enacted from an excess of caution to address concerns raised in a 1999 OECD review.