The documentary, produced with The Guardian, called Panorama: How Rolls-Royce Bribed Its Way Around The World, alleged that payments of around £10m were made to an unregistered Indian agent, and that the company made a suspicious payment which may have helped it win a major contract to build engines for Hawk aircraft.
The investigation alleged that Rolls-Royce paid millions of pounds to companies linked to Sudhir Choudhrie, a businessman on an Indian government blacklist of people suspected of “corrupt or irregular practice”.
It is illegal in India to pay middlemen to win defence contracts. Mr Choudhrie and his son were both arrested and questioned by the SFO in 2014 as part of its investigation into Rolls-Royce. They both denied wrongdoing and were released without charge. Mr Choudhrie is also an adviser to the leader of the Liberal Democrats, Tim Farron, and has donated more than £1.6m to the party.
The investigation also claims that that agents were hired in Brazil, India, China, Indonesia, South Africa, Angola, Iraq, Iran, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Nigeria and Saudi Arabia.
The SFO inquiry is also investigating Monaco-based Unaoil over allegations of bribery, corruption and money laundering, and its relationship with Rolls-Royce.
The SFO said that it “is conducting major investigations into allegations of bribery and corruption involving both Rolls-Royce and Unaoil. We cannot comment further at this time.”