UK’s First Corporate Conviction Under Section 7 Of The Bribery Act

The Bribery Act 2010 is among the strictest international bribery legislation. It introduces a new strict liability offence for companies and partnerships that fail to prevent bribery, state Curry Popeck Solicitors. This law makes it compulsory for companies to show that they have adequate procedures in place to prevent bribery. Under this law there are provisions for strict penalties for active and passive bribery by individuals as well as companies.

Recently, construction and professional services company, Sweett Group PLC, was sentenced and ordered to pay £2.25 million, which is likely to have a severe commercial impact on Sweett Group’s operations. According to Lionel Curry, Curry Popeck’s founding partner, this case illustrates the far-reaching extra-territorial effect of the Bribery Act2010 and sheds light on certain aspects of the Bribery Act and the likely penalties for Corporate Offences.

Cyril Sweett International Limited (CSIL), a subsidiary of Sweett Group, based in Cyprus secured a contract worth £1.6 million in relation to the construction of a hotel in Dubai with Al Badie Group.  On the same day as signing the contract, CSIL entered a contract (Contract X) with a company beneficially owned by a prominent officer within the Al Badie Group. Contract X was used by CSIL as a vehicle to bribe the prominent officer within the Al Badie Group to secure the £1.6 million contract in respect of the hotel project in Dubai. The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) commenced an investigation into the matter, after which Sweett Group was sentenced in February 2016 and was ordered to pay a confiscation order of£851,152.23 and a fine of £1.4 million. In addition, the SFO was awarded £95,000 in costs.

SFO Director, David Green CB QC, remarked that such cases significantly damage the UK’s commercial reputation. The conviction of Sweett Group PLC, 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.

According to the law experts at Curry Popeck Section 7 was introduced in the UK in 2011, to impose a duty on those running such companies throughout the world. It provides that a company will be guilty of an offence if a person associated with it bribes another person intending either to obtain or retain business, or an advantage in the conduct of business, for the company. Sweett Group was convicted of the second form of illegal conduct by way of bribes paid to the prominent officer within the Al Badie Group.

This case emphasises the need for  companies to strengthen their internal systems, controls and risk procedures and refine their strategies to ensure they never fall victim to such conduct.

For any questions regarding the issues raised in this article or for legal assistance on private company and partnership matters including joint ventures, shareholders’ agreements, partnership and company formations, mergers and acquisitions and trading agreements, contact CurryPopeck. To schedule an appointment, visit-http://www.currypopeck.com/

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