UK fraud probe continues as five face Rolls-Royce bribery charges in US

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Britain's corruption watchdog has said it will continue to investigate individuals linked to Rolls-Royce after US authorities charged five people who allegedly bribed government officials to help the engineering giant secure a major contract.

The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) said its probe into the conduct of people connected with Rolls-Royce's civil, defence and marine divisions - as well as the firm's former energy arm - was continuing.

The US Department of Justice announced on Tuesday that three former employees of Roll-Royce's now defunct energy operation - James Finley, Keith Barnett and Aloysius Zuurhout - had been charged with bribery and corruption offences.

It added that Andreas Kohler, the director of an engineering consultancy firm working with a former Rolls-Royce customer in Kazakhstan, and Petros Contoguris, who acted as an intermediary for the engine maker in Kazakhstan, were also charged.

The unsealed charges - meaning they are now being made public - are linked to their alleged involvement in a scheme to bribe government officials to help secure a contract to supply equipment and services for a gas pipeline running from Central Asia to China.

It comes after Rolls-Royce agreed to pay £671 million in January to British, US and Brazilian authorities to settle bribery and corruption claims involving intermediaries in overseas markets.

Unveiling the charges on Tuesday, acting assistant attorney general Kenneth Blanco, of the DoJ's criminal division, said: "Thanks to the co-ordinated efforts by our prosecutors and agents - working closely with their counterparts in Brazil and at the United Kingdom's Serious Fraud Office, among others - these defendants, many of whom reside overseas, will face justice in this case, which represents another important step towards levelling the playing field for all ethical and honest businesses."

Mr Finley, the 66-year-old former vice president and global head of sales for Rolls-Royce's energy division, a British citizen now living in Taiwan, has pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) and one count of violating the FCPA.

Mr Zuurhout, 53, former sales manager of the engineering firm's energy division, from the Netherlands, has pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to violate the FCPA.

Mr Barnett, the 48-year-old former regional director of the engine-maker's energy division, who lives in Houston, Texas, has pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to violate the FCPA.

Mr Kohler, 53, of Austria, has also pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to violate the FCPA.

Mr Contoguris, a Greek citizen living in Turkey, has been charged with one count of conspiracy to violate the FCPA, one count of conspiracy to launder money, seven counts of violating the FCPA and 10 counts of money laundering.

The DoJ said Mr Contoguris is believed to be outside the United States.


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