Ladbrokes and Coral Owner Entain in £600m settlement

Ladbrokes and Coral Owner Entain in £600m settlement

In a landmark agreement, the owner of Ladbrokes and Coral, Entain, has agreed to pay a staggering £585 million to settle a bribery investigation conducted by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) into its former Turkish business. The deal, which also includes a £20 million charitable donation and a £10 million contribution to cover costs incurred by HMRC and the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), is expected to be paid in instalments over a four-year period.

The investigation, stemming from potential corporate offending, focused on the period between 2011 and 2017 when Entain owned a Turkish-facing online betting and gaming business. HMRC scrutinized the activities of third-party suppliers and former employees of the Entain group of companies, specifically looking into the alleged failure to implement adequate bribery prevention measures.

Barry Gibson, the chair of Entain, addressed the matter, stating, “This legacy matter concerns a business which was sold by a former management team six years ago. The group has changed immeasurably since these events took place. We are committed to continuing our journey towards operating only in regulated markets and are now widely recognized as a best-in-class, responsible operator with the highest levels of corporate governance across all aspects of our business.”

The company had already signaled its anticipation of a substantial penalty in August, setting aside £585 million in preparation for the settlement. Entain has, in principle, reached a deferred prosecution agreement (DPA) with the CPS, subject to final court approval at a hearing scheduled for December 5th.

A DPA involves a company being charged with a criminal offense, with proceedings automatically suspended upon approval from a judge. The company must then adhere to strict rules outlined in the agreement. DPAs have been utilized in cases involving alleged bribery and corruption, with companies like Rolls-Royce employing this legal mechanism.

Entain’s proactive approach in resolving the matter reflects a commitment to repairing the damage caused by the alleged bribery while avoiding the potential detrimental impact of a criminal conviction. The outcome of the December 5th court hearing will determine the finalization of the agreement and mark a significant chapter in the company’s efforts to uphold corporate governance standards.

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