British investigators drop probes on Rolls-Royce, GSK

Britain's Serious Fraud Office on Friday dropped major investigations into engineering firm Rolls-Royce and pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline in a move condemned by anti-corruption watchdog Transparency International.

Rolls Royce had already reached a £500 million ($650 million, 574 million euros) agreement with the SFO over claims that corruption and bribery were used to win business in China, India, Indonesia, Thailand, India, Russia, Nigeria, China and Malaysia.

The SFO said it had now concluded that there would be "no prosecution of individuals associated with the company".

The investigation into GlaxoSmithKline, meanwhile, related to commercial practices by the firm, its subsidiaries and associated individuals.

"After an extensive and careful examination I have concluded that there is either to provide a realistic prospect of conviction or it is not in the public interest to bring a prosecution in these cases," said SFO director Lisa Osofsky.

"In the Rolls-Royce case, the SFO investigation led to the company taking responsibility for corrupt conduct spanning three decades, seven jurisdictions and three businesses, for which it paid a fine of £497.25 million."

This figure, agreed in January 2017 as part of a so-called deferred agreement, was comprised of surrendered profits of £258 million and a financial penalty of £239 million.

Rolls-Royce is also paying an estimated £13 million to cover the SFO's costs.

The firm said it would not be commenting on Friday's decision, beyond saying it was cooperating fully with the authorities following the 2017 deal.

But anti-corruption campaigners Transparency International condemned the SFO's move.

"It is absurd that yet again a can admit to bribery and yet neither the bribe payers nor the that allowed the crime to happen are held responsible," said executive director Robert Barrington.

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