New sentencing guideline for corporate fraud

The Sentencing Council has published a new sentencing guideline for the sentencing of organisations convicted of fraud, money laundering and bribery offences.

The guideline is part of the wider development of overall guidelines for all fraud offences committed by individuals, which will be published in the summer, following a 2013 public consultation.

The guideline aims to ensure consistent and appropriate sentencing for these crimes, removing any profit made through the offence and having a real economic impact on the offending organisation, including its shareholders.

This work was undertaken in large part due to the need to provide guidance for judges applying deferred prosecution agreements (DPAs) which are expected to come into force in February.

While a DPA is not a criminal conviction and so the Sentencing Council cannot produce a guideline for them, the guidance can be used to inform the level of financial penalty that forms part of a DPA, which should be broadly comparable to the likely fine that would be imposed following a conviction after a guilty plea.

The guideline is therefore being published online to be referred to by judges operating the DPA scheme but will not yet be used in courts to sentence organisations that have been successfully prosecuted.

The guidelines will come into force in courts on 1 October.