UK Company Director Jailed For Bribing Public Officials In Africa
In order to win a contract worth £2.26m for making ballot papers, Smith and Ouzman Ltd, a printing firm based in Sussex, gave £395,074 in corrupt payments to public officials in Kenya and Mauritania.
In February 2015, Southwark Crown Court jailed Nicholas Smith, the Sales and Marketing Director, for three years and handed his father, Christopher Smith, Chairman, an 18-month suspended term, 250 hours of unpaid work and a three month curfew. Both have resigned from the company and were disqualified from acting as directors for 6 years. The International Sales Manager and a Sales Agent were both acquitted of making corrupt payments in relation to a contract in Somaliland.
As the payments in question took place before the Bribery Act 2010 came into force, both were convicted of the old (pre-Bribery Act 2010) offence of corruptly agreeing to make payments (three counts and two counts respectively).
The Company was convicted of the same offence but will not be sentenced until October 2015, at which point confiscation proceedings will also take place, meaning that Smith and Ouzman Ltd will face not only an unlimited fine but the financial benefit they gained from the corrupt payments (i.e. the value of the contract) could be confiscated.
Following the conviction, Director of the SFO, David Green CB QC commented: “This is the SFO’s first conviction, after trial, of a corporate for offences involving bribery of foreign public officials. Such criminality, whether involving companies large or small severely damages the UK’s commercial reputation and feeds corrupt governance in the developing world.”