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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.”

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About this Author

Louise Roberts, Environmental Attorney, Squire Patton Boggs Law Firm
Associate

Louise is a Lawyer in our Environmental, Safety and Health Group based in our Manchester office. Louise specialises in health and safety and contentious environment law; however Louise is involved in a wide range of transactions and can assist in relation to both contentious and non-contentious matters. Louise acts for a mixture of clients, from large multi-national organisations to individuals, and has experience in the Crown Court, the Magistrates Court and the Coroners Court. Louise also carries out a large amount of training for clients, is a member of the Health and...

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