Plans for a new tool to tackle economic crime were published today for consultation by Solicitor General Edward Garnier QC and Justice Minister Crispin Blunt.
Under Deferred Prosecution Agreements, companies would agree to publically admit wrongdoing, and meet tough conditions such as payment of substantial penalties, undertaking internal reform and submitting to regular review and monitoring.
The whole process would be overseen by a judge and the threat of full prosecution would remain hanging over a company should they fail to comply with the agreement.
Solicitor General Edward Garnier QC said:
'If we can encourage companies to self-report and come clean, pay penalties and mend their ways, the time and expense of investigations and prosecutions will be better spent elsewhere, enabling us to bring more individuals and companies to justice.
'An important aim of any DPA system would be to allow investigators and prosecutors to focus resources on those cases where a prosecution is in the public interest - and there will always be some where it is the only option.'
Justice Minister Crispin Blunt said:
'Law enforcement agencies have told us that they do not have the tools they need to tackle increasingly complex economic crimes. Investigations can take several years and cost millions of pounds, with no guarantee of success, which means victims wait far too long for reparation. Or indeed receive no payback at all.
'More clearly needs to be done. Deferred Prosecution Agreements will give prosecutors extra tools to tackle this type of crime and bring about a just outcome - which punishes the wrongdoer, ensures the surrendering of any proceeds and makes amends to victims.'