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Rolls-Royce exec resigns amid bribery probe

Mark King of Rolls Royce (Photo courtesy of Rolls Royce)The head of Rolls-Royce's aerospace division resigned Monday amid reports the company is close to resolving civil charges with the Serious Fraud Office for bribery in China, Indonesia, and other countries.

Mark King resigned after being promoted to his job just four months ago, the Guardian reported Thursday.

He'll leave at the end of June, the Guardian said.

King joined the aircraft engine maker in 1986 and previously headed the civil aerospace division, now at the center of the bribery allegations.

The company said he was leaving for personal reasons.

Late last year, reports appeared in China that Rolls-Royce bribed executives of Air China and China Eastern Airlines to win sales in 2005 and 2010.

The company said in December that the U.K. Serious Fraud Office had asked it to investigate allegations of misconduct involving intermediaries in Indonesia and China.

The Indonesia allegations arose after a whistleblower, former Roll Royce employee Dick Taylor, 'claimed that Tommy Suharto – a son of the late President Suharto – received $20 million and a Rolls Royce car to persuade the national airline, Garuda, to order Rolls Royce Trent 700 engines in 1990,' the Guardian reported last year.

The Guardian said Thursday that Rolls-Royce and the SFO are 'reportedly close to reaching a civil settlement to halt the bribery inquiry. Any agreement may involve a multimillion-pound fine, but avoid criminal charges. Rolls-Royce and the SFO declined to comment.'

Rolls-Royce chief executive John Rishton told shareholders this week it has been 'particularly disappointing to discover matters of concern. . . . This is a company with exceptional prospects and I will not accept any behaviour that undermines its future success.'