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8 February 2016 0 Comments
Posted in Corporate & Commercial, Opinion

Firm fined for corrupt payments

Posted by , Partner

A firm was last month fined £1.3million after it was found to have made corrupt payments to officials of foreign governments.

In a landmark case, security printing outfit Smith & Ouzman became the first ever company to be convicted under the Prevention of Corruption Act – a piece of legislation which was added to the statute books over 100 years ago.

An investigation by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) had found that the Sussex-based business had made payments totalling £395,074 to officials in Kenya and Mauritania in order to secure contracts.

On top of the substantial fine, the firm was also ordered to forfeit more than £880,000.

Passing sentence at Southwark Crown Court, Recorder Andrew Mitchell said: “Corruption of foreign officials is damaging to the country in which the corruption occurs, is damaging to the reputation of UK business, and of course in the market in which a business operates. It is anti-competitive.”

Susan Hawley, from the campaign group Corruption Watch, welcomed the successful prosecution but questioned whether the level of fine was a sufficient deterrent. She was also critical of the court’s decision not to hear evidence of the harm caused by the company’s actions.

“The court’s decision to take extensive evidence of the company’s good standing and remedial measures but refuse to take evidence of the harm… caused in Kenya is perverse,” she said.

For more information on regulation or the services available from our corporate and commercial team please contact John North, Claus Andersen or Tony Roberts or visit.

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