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Slaughters parachutes in to defend Rolls-Royce in SFO probe

Rolls-Royce has hired Slaughter and May to lead its defence as it faces an SFO probe into alleged bribes paid in Asia.

The agency is under pressure to get a successful prosecution against the aerospace giant, after securing funding worth millions of pounds in January 2014 to ramp up its investigation into Rolls-Royce.

Rolls Royce has now hired Slaughters litigation partners Richard Swallow and Jonathan Clark to beef up its defence.

Swallow, who defended GlaxoSmithKline in corruption investigations by the SFO and US authorities over alleged kickbacks paid to Saddam Hussein’s regime during the United Nation’s oil-for-food program in Iraq, will lead the defence.

Slaughters will be supported by Debevoise & Plimpton, which were instructed to defend the aerospace company when a whistleblower reported allegations of bribery in China and Indonesia in 2012. Lord Gold, a conservative peer and former senior partner at Herbert Smith Freehills, was also brought in to lead an internal review into the company’s compliance procedures.

The new instruction is the latest in a long pipeline of high-profile UK fraud work for Slaughters. The UK SFO this week dropped its case against the firm’s client Olympus after charging it with making false and misleading financial statements just yesterday, and the Magic Circle firm also acted for the SFO in settling a £300m claim for botching an investigation into property tycoon Robert Tchenguiz down to £1.5m.