Rolls Royce must react to bribery allegations 'at some pace'

Rolls Royce must be quick in setting up an investigation following reputationally 'cancerous' allegations of bribery, it has been claimed.

Rolls Royce: Facing bribery allegations
Rolls Royce: Facing bribery allegations

The company is currently facing accusations it paid bribes to an executive involved with two Chinese airlines.

The claims, which drew the attention of the weekend’s press, are contained in postings by a blogger named Soaringdragon.

They relate to deals worth £1.25bn with Air China in 2005 and China Eastern in 2010, and follow Rolls Royce revealing last month that the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) had approached it over claims of malpractice in Indonesia and China.

Brunswick, which is understood to be advising Rolls Royce on the issue, is referring press to a statement made in December by Rolls Royce CEO John Rushton.

Tim Fallon, managing partner at The College Group, commended Rishton's words in which he said ‘improper business conduct’ would not be tolerated.

Calling Rishton’s statement ‘robust’, he an said that a ‘independent senior figure’ set to review compliance processes should be named as soon as possible.

‘They need to lay out the terms of the investigation and move forward with it as some pace. The person must be of an appropriate seniority and clout who will not be seen to be soft. Reputationally, issues like this can become cancerous within an orgnaisation, so it needs to be isolated and ringfenced. It must not be kicked into the long grass, because the longer this lasts the longer there will be questions.’

Over the weekend Rolls Royce declined to comment on whether the blogger's allegations were included in a dossier passed to the SFO.

However, in the statement last month it did say an internal investigation had found ‘matters of concern’ in Indonesia and China and other unspecified markets around ‘bribery and corruption.’

Andrew Robinson, director at Newgate Communications, also praised Rishton’s words for ‘setting the tone’ for Rolls Royce’s response to the allegations.

Robinson warned that the company now had to be ‘very public’ in ensuring it had ‘set clear and transparent guidelines’ of conduct.

He added that companies had to be particularly careful when it came to advisers brought in to make contacts or oversee certain bits of business.

‘The role of advisers in securing large deals will always carry reputational issues as they don’t necessarily carry company culture with them,’ he said.

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