SFO agrees its ninth DPA

SFO agrees its ninth DPA

It was announced today that the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) has reached a Deferred Prosecution Agreement (DPA) with Airline Services Limited (ASL).[1] The DPA still remains subject to final court approval, which will be sought at a hearing at Southwark Crown Court (sitting at the Royal Courts of Justice) on 30 October 2020.

At the final hearing, the SFO will apply to the Court for a declaration that the DPA is in the interests of justice, and that its terms are fair, reasonable and proportionate. The DPA will only come into force once it is approved in this way.

The SFO has not yet revealed the nature of the allegations against ASL or the terms of the DPA. (Indeed, the fact that ASL is even under investigation is not something the SFO has previously publicised.) The SFO’s website does, however, state that: “The prospective DPA will conclude the SFO’s investigation into Airline Services Limited and this conduct.”

Since DPAs were introduced in 2014, the SFO has agreed eight in total: one in 2015 (Standard Bank); one in 2016 (Sarclad); two in 2017 (Rolls-Royce and Tesco); two in 2019 (Serco Geografix and Güralp Systems); and two (thus far) in 2020 (Airbus and G4S C&J). If/when the DPA with ASL is approved next week, it will bring the overall total to nine.

[1] https://www.sfo.gov.uk/2020/10/22/sfo-confirms-dpa-in-principle-with-airline-services-limited/

Jonathan Flynn is an employed barrister at BCL specialising in criminal and regulatory law. He has particular expertise in fraud, bribery and corruption, restraint and confiscation proceedings, and general crime. Jonathan has acted in a number of high-profile, complex and multi-jurisdictional cases, including investigations/prosecutions by the SFO, FCA, HMRC, and NCA.