Defence group Chemring turns to Herbert Smith Freehills for SFO probe

Defence business Chemring has appointed Herbert Smith Freehills (HSF) to advise it on a Serious Fraud Office (SFO) probe announced yesterday.

The SFO said on Thursday (18 January) that it had opened an investigation into bribery, corruption and money laundering at the London-listed defence company.

HSF is advising the company in connection with the investigation with London white-collar partner Brian Spiro in the lead role. Spiro joined HSF in May 2017 from London litigation boutique BCL Solicitors.

In a statement, Chemring said the investigation follows a voluntary report by the company’s subsidiary business, Chemring Technology Solutions Limited (CTSL), and relates to two historic contracts. The statement continues: “It is too early to predict the outcome of the SFO’s investigation. Chemring continues to cooperate fully with the SFO.”

Chemring makes explosives, missile counter measures and sensors for the defence sector. In its results for 2017, the company announced revenue of £547.5m – an increase of 15% on the previous year.

In 2016, Chemring’s finance director Steve Bowers left the company after three years in the role to join HSF as its chief financial officer.

Chemring is not the only defence and aerospace company to attract the attention of the SFO in recent years.

In January 2017, Slaughter and May and Debevoise & Plimpton acted as aero engine company Rolls Royce agreed to pay £671m in fines as part of a deferred prosecution agreement (DPA) with the SFO in the wake of bribery and corruption allegations.

Dechert and Clifford Chance are currently acting for Airbus in connection with a joint Anglo-French investigation into allegations of fraud, bribery and corruption in the company’s civil aviation business.