UK: Increasingly Cooperative World Of Cross-Border Investigations

Last Updated: 19 July 2019
Article by Caroline Black, Timothy Bowden, Karen Coppens, Richard Hodge and Chloe Binding

We reported last year that the rise in multi-jurisdictional criminal and regulatory investigations over the past few years has led to improvements in cross-border cooperation between enforcement authorities in corporate investigations, resulting in an increased number of global settlements. This year's article seeks to expand on that theme, providing a more focused insight into how increased cooperation works in practice, and examining some of the trickier issues to be navigated by companies under investigation in more than one country.

Cross-border investigations: a jurisdictional overview

Fraud, bribery and other complex economic crime frequently crosses borders, creating potential liability in more than one jurisdiction. The geographical location of the conduct is not necessarily determinative of jurisdiction; in recent years the UK has legislated to create a number of corporate offences with extraterritorial effect, including failing to prevent bribery under section 7 of the Bribery Act 2010, and failing to prevent the facilitation of tax evasion under sections 45 and 46 of the Criminal Finances Act 2017. These offences have broad jurisdictional reach and may be prosecuted by UK authorities even if the offending took place entirely overseas – so long as the defendant company is incorporated or carries on a business or part of a business in the UK.

Such extraterritoriality is set to increase. In January 2017, the government issued a call for evidence on the issue of whether to extend the 'failure to prevent' model offences to other economic crimes. The results have not yet been published, but may be imminent following the comments of the House of Lords Select Committee on the Bribery Act in their paper dated 14 March 2019, which expressed the hope that the government would 'delay no more' in delivering its conclusions.1 It is likely that such an offence would already be on the statute book if not for the distraction of Brexit.

Trends towards international cooperation and global settlements

As a consequence of the proliferation of offences with an international aspect, law enforcement agencies are making increasingly frequent use of formal and informal channels to exchange information. Multilateral and bilateral mutual legal assistance (MLA) treaties between countries enable authorities to obtain evidence from overseas, but there can be significant delay in their execution. Memoranda of understanding (MOUs) or data-sharing agreements between countries can create a framework for efficiently sharing information and a number of UK agencies can receive information directly through these instruments without the need for an MLA request.2 Informal informational exchanges can accelerate the progress of an investigation and encourage a coordinated strategy between agencies. Such intelligence sharing can subsequently be supplemented with corresponding evidence produced by way of MLA, which can be relied upon as evidence in court.

Public policy statements from UK and US prosecuting authorities underline how vital they consider international cooperation to be. In the UK, the new Director of the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) Lisa Osofsky has publicly affirmed her intention to leverage international contacts she made through her previous roles as a federal prosecutor for the US Department of Justice (DOJ) and Deputy Counsel at the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), to strengthen the SFO's investigational capacities. In oral evidence to the House of Commons Justice Committee in December 2018, Osofsky anticipated that the 'shared use of important intelligence information' would help 'crack open' cases.3 In the US, the DOJ has recently adopted a 'no piling on' policy regarding penalties, which explicitly includes cooperation with foreign agencies within its framework. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein explained that the policy 'discourages disproportionate enforcement of law by multiple agencies', through 'instructing Department components to appropriately coordinate with one another and other enforcement agencies in imposing multiple penalties on a company in relation to investigations of the same misconduct.'4

Globalised teams across agencies foster international cooperation and further signal their intentions in this regard. The DOJ has a lawyer seconded to the SFO specifically to work on US cases5 and Osofsky recently recruited Peter Pope, the US-qualified co-head of Jenner and Block's London investigations practice, to 'assist with building and consolidating relationships with authorities in jurisdictions and to act as an adviser in case reviews on compliance issues'.6 These initiatives particularly assist with informal intelligence sharing and are set to continue along the same trajectory.

With such networks in place, companies under investigation in more than one jurisdiction can expect that information and evidence pertaining to one country's investigation may be shared with overseas law enforcement and prosecuting agencies that have concurrent jurisdiction. With this in mind, companies need to ensure that they liaise closely with the authorities and provide consistent information across the same subject matters. However, corporates and their advisers should aim to achieve coordination between the relevant enforcement agencies as far as possible, and clear agreements between them as to relevant subject matter disclosures. This is particularly acute where there are national laws preventing disclosure such as Chinese state secrets or the French blocking statute.

The increase in international cooperation is set to feed the upturn in agencies working together to coordinate sanctions against companies where criminal activity has been committed in multiple jurisdictions. Recently:

  • Rolls-Royce reached settlements with the SFO, DOJ and Brazilian authorities.7
  • Société Générale8 entered into a coordinated resolution by US and French authorities. The respective agencies worked together for the first time and announced settlements in one day.
  • The Brazilian construction company Oderbrecht agreed to pay the US, Swiss and Brazilian authorities the largest corruption fine ever imposed, totalling at least US$3.5 billion.9

There are a number of compelling advantages for both prosecuting authorities and companies in pursuing a global settlement. Theoretically the time and costs of any investigation are reduced, any settlement figure will be assessed holistically and therefore be fairer, and the risk of further prosecutions is greatly diminished. None of these are guaranteed, however. The proposition that a global settlement achieves finality needs to be treated with particular caution, as other countries not covered by the settlement but with potential jurisdictional claims may use the information already gathered to mount their own proceedings. In the Odebrecht case,10 the global settlement spawned investigations and further settlements in other countries including Colombia, Peru, Panama and the Dominican Republic, among many others. The deferred prosecution agreement (DPA) in Rolls-Royce required the company to assist domestic and foreign law enforcement agencies in the future and acknowledged that Rolls-Royce may face further proceedings in countries not covered by the settlement.11

Read 'United Kingdom: The Increasingly Cooperative World of Cross-Border Investigations'.


1. https://publications.parliament.U.K./pa/ld201719/ldselect/ldbribact/303/303.pdf.

2. UK Liaison Bureau at Europol via the National Crime Agency, Interpol via the National Crime Agency, UK Visas & Immigration, HMRC; Police Services; Financial Intelligence Units; Asset Recovery.

3. Lisa Osofsky, evidence to House of Commons Justice Committee, 18 December 2018.





8. Convention judiciaire d'intérêt public between the National Financial Prosecutor of the Paris first instance court and Société Générale SA, 24 May 2018


10. ibid.

11. Rolls-Royce, Crown Court (Southwark), 17 January 2017 at paras 61 and 68,

Accreditation: An extract from GIR's The European, Middle Eastern and African Investigations Review 2019, first published in July 2019.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

In association with
Related Topics
Related Articles
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Mondaq Free Registration
Gain access to Mondaq global archive of over 375,000 articles covering 200 countries with a personalised News Alert and automatic login on this device.
Mondaq News Alert (some suggested topics and region)
Select Topics
Registration (please scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of

To Use you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions