HomeGamblingLadbrokes and Coral owner to pay £615m in deferred prosecution agreement

Ladbrokes and Coral owner to pay £615m in deferred prosecution agreement

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A global sports betting, gaming and entertainment company has agreed to pay £615m as part of a deferred prosecution agreement (DPA) reached over bribery allegations. 

The deal with Entain plc is the first DPA to be reached by Crown Prosecution Service as prosecutor. All 12 previous DPAs in England and Wales since their introduction in 2014 have been the result of investigations and prosecutions by the Serious Fraud Office.

London-headquartered Entain reached the settlement following an investigation into alleged bribery relating to a Turkish betting and gaming business that Entain, then known as GVC Holdings, owned between 2011 and 2017. The alleged offences occurred primarily in Turkey.

Dame Victoria Sharp this afternoon gave final approval to the DPA which will see Entain pay a financial penalty of £465m, a disgorgement of profits of £120m, costs of £10m and a charitable donation of £20m. The ‘significant financial penalty’ was calculated to reflect the revenue from the Turkish operations at the material time.

In a public judgment handed down in the Royal Courts of Justice today (Tuesday 5 December), Sharp said Entain had ‘provided and continued to provide significant co-operation to the investigation and made significant admissions’. She added: ‘The admission and the voluntary provision of material by Entain had the effect of significantly narrowing the issues in the investigation of GVC.

‘Though there was no initial “self-report” in this case the CPS considered that the extent of the voluntary production of material by Entain was akin to self-reporting and that Entain’s standard of co-operation had been exemplary.’

The short judgment acknowledged a ‘wholesale change of senior management and approach and acknowledgment’ by the company.

As well as the financial terms of the DPA, the agreement also requires that Entain conduct its gambling operations only in regulated markets; continue to review and enhance its compliance procedures and to engage Big Four firm PwC to conduct an external compliance review.

In considering if the DPA is in the interest of justice, the judge said: ‘I am satisfied that the prosecution of Entain would have disproportionate consequences.’

She added that a ‘significant factor’ in her conclusion that justice was best served through a DPA, she said: ‘Entain is, both in form and substance, a different entity to GVC.

‘The DPA should encourage self-reporting, which is of vital importance in the context of the investigation and prosecution of complex corporate crime.’

The proceedings against Entain, which included four counts under section 7 of the Bribery Act 2010, are automatically suspended.

DPAs, which can be reached only with organisations, do not rule out the possibility of criminal prosecutions of individuals. 

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