Serco agrees to 19 mln pound fine over electronic tagging fraud

LONDON, July 3 (Reuters) - Britain’s Serco has agreed to pay a 19.2 million pound ($24.1 million) fine for three offences of fraud and two of false accounting when it provided electronic tagging to the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) between 2010 and 2013.

The outsourcing company said its UK subsidiary Serco Geografix had struck a Deferred Prosecution Agreement with the UK Serious Fraud Office (SFO), which after judicial approval will conclude an investigation announced in November 2013.

The fine was discounted by 50% because Serco reported the offences itself and had cooperated with the investigation.

Serco’s Chief Executive Rupert Soames said those of us who now ran the business were “mortified, embarrassed and angry” that, in a period between six and nine years ago, the company understated the level of profitability of its Electronic Monitoring contract in its reports to the Ministry of Justice.

“Serco apologised unreservedly at the time, and we do so again,” he said.

“The management and culture of Serco, and the transparency with which we conduct our affairs, have changed beyond all recognition, and we are pleased that this has been acknowledged by both the SFO and by the government.”

Compensation to the MoJ has already been paid by Serco as part of a 70 million pound civil settlement in 2013.

Serco added that the investigations into allegations of wrongful billing which were the subject of significant public and Parliamentary concern in 2013 had now been concluded without any criminal charges against the company.

$1 = 0.7955 pounds Reporting by Paul Sandle; editing by Kate Holton