G4S ends tagging inquiry with $56 million UK fraud office deal

FILE PHOTO: A G4S security van is seen parked outside a bank in Loughborough, central England, August 28, 2013. REUTERS/Darren Staples

(Reuters) - Private security group G4S GFS.L said on Friday it had agreed to pay 44.4 million pounds ($56 million) to the UK Serious Fraud Office (SFO) to avert criminal charges after a long-running inquiry into electronic tagging contracts.

The SFO began investigating G4S and Serco SRP.L in 2013 over bills charged to the British government for tagging people who were either dead, in prison or had not been tagged.

“We have apologised to the UK Government and implemented significant changes to people, policies, practices and controls,” G4S Chief Executive Ashley Almanza said.

Serco drew a line under its own involvement last year by paying 19.2 million pounds in penalties.

G4S said in a statement that its rehabilitation and prisons unit, G4S Care and Justice Services (UK) Ltd, had taken responsibility for three allegations of improperly billing the government for contracts between August 2011 and May 2012.

The proposed Deferred Prosecution Agreement (DPA), which also includes reviews of internal practices at G4S and its implementation of counter measures, still needs court approval.

“The terms of this DPA will provide substantial oversight and assurance regarding G4S Care & Justice’s commitment to responsible corporate behaviour,” SFO Director Lisa Osofsky said in a statement.

G4S, which provides security for the Hinkley Point C nuclear power station and the International Cricket Council, had repaid Britain under a 121-million-pounds settlement in 2014.

Shares in G4S closed 1.6% higher at 119.5 pence in London.

Reporting by Pushkala Aripaka in Bengaluru; Editing by Ramakrishnan M, Aditya Soni and Alexander Smith