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Serious Fraud Office obtains first conviction
Following a Serious Fraud Office (SFO) investigation into the activities of Sweett Group plc (Sweett) in the United Arab Emirates, Sweett has been ordered to pay £2.25 million after being convicted of failing to prevent an act of bribery intended to secure and retain a contract with Al Ain Ahlia Insurance Company.
Section 7 of the Bribery Act 2010 provides that a “relevant commercial organisation” (RCO) is guilty of an offence if a person or company associated with the RCO bribes another person, intending to obtain or retain business or a business advantage for the RCO. The offence occurred between December 2012 and December 2015 and related to conduct of Sweett’s wholly-owned Cypriot subsidiary Cyril Sweett International Limited (SWI) in respect of a project management contract expected to provide a gross profit of around £900,000. The judge noted that a professional advisor charged with auditing the group’s financial processes had expressed serious concerns about the operations of SWI and had made clear recommendations for changes in group policy. Sweett had failed to implement any of the suggestions, effectively ignoring them.
Sweett pleaded guilty to the charge. It was fined £1.4 million and had a sum of £851,152.23 (equal to Sweett’s gross profit) confiscated.
David Green CB QC, director of the SFO said:
“This conviction and punishment, the SFO’s first under section 7 of the Bribery Act, sends a strong message that UK companies must take full responsibility for the actions of their employees and in their commercial activities act in accordance with the law.”
For further information, please contact Andy Moseby.