Rolls-Royce launches 24-hour ethics helpline after graft charges

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London:  Aerospace and defence company Rolls-Royce, facing an investigation by Britain's anti-fraud watchdog, says it has cut the number of middlemen it uses as it steps up efforts to prevent bribery and corruption.

The British company said in its annual report on Wednesday that as well as cutting down on the number of intermediaries it uses, it has re-launched a 24-hour ethics telephone line for staff and created a new role of head of risk training.

The world's second-largest maker of aircraft engines said in December, that the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) had launched a formal investigation into concerns of possible bribery and corruption in China and Indonesia.

In India, the CBI is investigating allegations of kickbacks over a deal signed in 2011 between Rolls-Royce and state-run Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL). The contract is reportedly worth 1.6 billion dollars and involves the purchase of Rolls Royce engines for advanced fighter jets being developed by HAL as training aircraft for the Indian air force and navy.

"The number of intermediaries used by our businesses has continued to fall dramatically during the year," Rolls said in its annual report, adding that it was working to simplify its anti-bribery policies in line with Gold's recommendations.

Rolls-Royce said last month that US and European spending cuts would halt profit growth in 2014, bringing to an end the group's decade-long record of increasing annual profits.



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