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Entain reaches final approval on deferred prosecution agreement with CPS

Ladbrokes in Nottingham City Centre (PA)
Ladbrokes in Nottingham City Centre (PA)

The company behind Coral and Ladbrokes will pay £615 million to resolve a probe into alleged bribery at a former Turkish subsidiary.

A High Court judge officially approved a deferred prosecution agreement (DPA) between Entain and the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) on Tuesday to settle an HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) investigation into the company.

Entain had reached an agreement with HMRC to pay a penalty of £585 million plus a further £10 million to cover the investigation and a £20 million charitable donation, which will be paid out over a four-year period.

HMRC had been probing Entain over activities at the Turkish-facing business that it sold in 2017.

Authorities started investigating the suppliers in 2019, and a year later turned their gaze on the GVC Group, which subsequently rebranded to Entain.

The company was alleged to not have adequate procedures in place to prevent bribery. It said that the investigation had looked at former employees and suppliers.

The business had already set aside £585 million in August to cover the potential penalties.

In a written ruling, Judge Victoria Sharp said: “Whilst the conduct is undoubtedly serious, the other factors suggest that the interests of justice are best served by the DPA. There have been sweeping changes to the compliance procedures in place.”

The DPA is one of the biggest corporate criminal settlements ever reached in the UK and the first for the CPS.

Chief Crown Prosecutor Andrew Penhale said: “We are pleased to announce today the approval of the first ever CPS Deferred Prosecution Agreement.

“The Court has concluded that there have been sweeping changes to the company’s compliance procedures and that Entain is committed to the promotion of open and transparent gambling operations and improvement of their corporate governance.

“The wider gaming industry may wish to reflect on the implications of this agreement for their own corporate compliance procedures and, where appropriate, take action to address and report any failings they identify.

“The CPS will continue to work closely with law enforcement partners in this area, such as HMRC, as well as the industry regulator, the Gambling Commission”.