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Economic Crime Committed by Commercial Organisations (Enforcement Tool)

Volume 545: debated on Thursday 17 May 2012

Today the Solicitor-General and I are launching the “Consultation on a new enforcement tool to deal with economic crime committed by commercial organisations: Deferred prosecution agreements” (Cm 8348), which has been developed jointly by the Ministry of Justice and the Law Officers’ Departments.

Treating economic crime more seriously and taking steps to combat it more effectively are key commitments in the coalition agreement. We need to develop new tools for prosecutors to use alongside existing methods, to give them the flexibility to secure appropriate penalties for wrongdoing, at the same time as achieving better outcomes for victims. We believe that these proposals will enable prosecutors to take more effective action against commercial organisations which commit economic crimes.

The Government are clear that more needs to be done and that white collar crime should be treated as seriously as any other kind of offending. That is why we are consulting on a new enforcement tool: deferred prosecution agreements (DPAs).

Under a DPA, a prosecutor would lay but would not immediately proceed with criminal charges against a commercial organisation pending successful compliance with tough requirements such as financial penalties, restitution for victims, confiscation of the profits of wrongdoing and measures to prevent future offending.

DPAs would contribute to a just outcome, securing appropriate penalties for and the surrendering of the proceeds of wrongdoing, and benefits for victims in a way that is sanctioned by a judge, without the uncertainty, expense, complexity or time of a full criminal trial. They would enable commercial organisations to be held to account—but without unfairly affecting employees, customers, pensioners, suppliers and investors who were not involved in the behaviour that is to be penalised. And the process will be transparent: as DPAs will be public, the public will always know what wrongdoing has taken place, and the penalty that has been paid.

Copies of the document have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses, in the Vote Office and in the Printed Paper Office. The document is also available online, at:

www.justice.gov.uk/consultations.

The consultation will run until 9 August 2012. A response paper is scheduled to be published in October 2012.