Rolls-Royce has instructed Slaughter and May as principal adviser on the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) probe into allegations of bribery and corruption at the company, it has emerged.

Slaughters will work alongside Debevoise & Plimpton, which was instructed by the aerospace and defence brand when claims of malpractice first surfaced in 2012.

The leading Slaughters partners are Richard Swallow and Jonathan Clark.

The UK firm is understood to have taken on the high-profile investigation mandate this year following a close relationship with Rolls-Royce on the corporate side, having acted for it in a number of transactions.

Rolls-Royce first instructed Debevoise in 2012 when the company revealed the SFO had approached it about allegations of malpractice in Indonesia and China.

The SFO opened the formal criminal investigation a year later in December 2013 after a whistleblower claimed the world’s second largest jet engine manufacturer had bribed the son of a former Indonesian president with a £13m Rolls-Royce car.

In January 2014 the SFO secured millions of pounds of extra funding from the UK Treasury to bolster its investigation into Rolls-Royce. The rare move signalled the large scope of the probe and the pressure on the agency to land a blow against a sizeable British corporation.

Rolls-Royce is now among a small list of British companies understood to be in talks to reach a deferred prosecution agreement (DPA) with the SFO in coming months. 

GlaxoSmithKline, Tesco and Barclays have also been named among companies in the running to settle with the fraud office.

Slaughters has advised on a number of Rolls-Royce transactions in recent months including advising on the amendment and £1.5bn extension of its credit facility in April, led by partner Ed Fife.

The firm also advised Rolls-Royce on its joint venture with Hispano-Suiza in July 2014, with partners Gary Eaborn, Bertrand Louveaux, and Jonathan Fenn advising. 

Rolls-Royce appointed former British Airways GC and Brick Court Chambers door tenant Robert Webb QC as its general counsel in 2012. In January this year its company secretary and head of legal Nigel Goldsworthy stepped down after his role was split in two last year.

Slaughters, Debevoise and Rolls-Royce declined to comment.

Yesterday (10 November) Slaughters secured a successful outcome for its client Olympus as the SFO dropped a prosecution relating to allegedly misleading statements by an auditor.