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UK's First DPA: Time for Companies to Step-up Compliance

UK's First DPA: Time for Companies to Step-up Compliance

DECEMBER 2, 2015

In recent years, deferred prosecution agreements (DPAs) and non-prosecution agreements (NPAs) have become increasingly important weapons in the arsenal of federal prosecutors in the United States.  Hundreds of DPAs and NPAs have been used in cases involving corporations, including such high-profile matters as the HSBC case involving the bank’s lax anti-money-laundering controls and the recent General Motors case involving faulty ignition switches.


DPAs have now arrived in the United Kingdom pursuant to legislation that came into force in February 2014.  On November 30 of this year, Lord Justice Leveson approved the U.K.’s first DPA in a bribery case against ICBC Standard Bank (ICBC).  The case had been brought by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO).


In many U.S. cases, the DPA calls for the appointment of a monitor.  In the ICBC case, no monitor was appointed.  This was presumably because of several mitigating factors that were noted by Lord Leveson in his judgment.  For example, ICBC conducted an internal investigation as soon as a suspicious transaction was flagged and the bank promptly self-reported to the SFO.  The judge also noted that the ICBC organization in its current form was very different from the entity responsible for the misconduct.


Although no monitor was appointed, the judgment does say that that the ICBC has to commission an “independent review of its existing internal anti-bribery and corruption controls, policies, and procedures regarding compliance with the Bribery Act 2010 and other applicable anti-corruption laws…”  This is the sort of thing that monitors typically do so it is possible that the independent reviewer will be – at least, to some extent – a de facto monitor.


To read more about this historical ruling, download a copy of the DPA HERE.

About the author


Larry Gurwin is a member of the Guidepost Solutions team and serves as senior director for its Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) practice. He is an accomplished investigator with significant international experience and more than 20 years of experience devising and executing investigative strategies for maximum benefit. Larry can be reached at


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