Tesco's deferred prosecution agreement is not the "new normal" for the Serious Fraud Office says boss David Green

 
Lynsey Barber
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Tesco settled with the Serious Fraud Office over its accounting scandal (Source: Getty)

A deferred prosecution agreement secured by the Serious Fraud Office with Tesco over the supermarket's accounting debacle will not become the "new normal" for punishing firms which break the rules.

The head of the fraud squad David Green has said the £129m settlement announced last week will not be the only option during investigations of companies, speaking to the Observer.

Read more: Solicitor general gives no guarantees fraud squad won't be culled

Subject to approval by the courts, it will be only the fourth ever DPA in the UK after the SFO was handed the powers for such a resolution three years ago.

“We are an investigating and prosecuting organisation: that is what we do. But having been given this new power, which comes from a US model, and has been adapted for this jurisdiction, we will use it only in very specific circumstances," Green told the newspaper.

“Absolutely crucial to those circumstances is that the company has been fully cooperative with us. There is a reason for that. Unlike with the American model, a judge over here has to decide whether or not the DPA is in the interest of justice. That is quite a high bar.

“If a company is totally uncooperative and sort of leads us a merry dance for four or five years by not cooperating with our investigation, I am sure you would agree that it would be almost impossible for us to represent to the judge that the DPA was in the interests of justice. Companies that don’t cooperate will be prosecuted. Indeed, their conduct may be so egregious that they have to be prosecuted anyway and a DPA wouldn’t be appropriate.”

Green also said that he expects a decision on its long-running investigation into Barclays over payments with Qatar which began in 2012 to be made "probably at the end of May". It had been expected by the end of March.

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