Britain’s Serious Fraud Office has said that it had opened a criminal investigation into accusations of bribery and corruption at Rolls-Royce, the maker of jet engines and other power systems.
The government agency, which is responsible for prosecuting large-scale corruption and other crime, is stepping up a long-running inquiry into the company, one of the largest in Britain. The agency had spent about a year weighing the evidence before its director, David Green, decided there were sufficient grounds to begin a criminal investigation.
Rolls-Royce said on Monday that it had been notified by the fraud office “that it has now commenced a formal investigation.”
The case threatens to tarnish the reputation of one of Britain’s few world-leading technology companies. Rolls-Royce engines power 30 types of civil airliners as well as 24 military engine programs. The company is also a major maker of turbines for the electrical power and energy industries.
Financial analysts were not expecting immediate fallout. “This news isn’t a surprise and should not detract from a company with such a healthy long-term outlook,” said Ben Bourne, an aerospace analyst at Liberum Capital, a London brokerage firm.
Rolls-Royce said last December that it had been asked by the Serious Fraud Office about “allegations of malpractice in Indonesia and China” and acknowledged that its own investigations had identified “matters of concern in these and in other overseas markets.” At the time, the company said it had passed information to the fraud office “relating to concerns about bribery and corruption involving intermediaries in overseas markets.” The concerns appear to center on payments made to agents regarding contracts in China, Indonesia and other markets.
- STANLEY REED