On Monday 21 December 2016, an individual charged in connection with an ongoing Serious Fraud Office (SFO) bribery and corruption investigation was found guilty by a Jury of two destruction of evidence offences, contrary to Section 2(16) of the Criminal Justice Act 1987.
Richard Kingston, 54, from South Wales, was convicted of concealing, destroying or otherwise disposing of two mobile telephones, either knowing or suspecting that the data stored on those telephones would be relevant to the SFO’s inquiries. Kingston was sentenced the same day to 12 months’ imprisonment on each count to run concurrently.
Kingston was first arrested in December 2014 in respect of an SFO investigation into suspected bribes paid by the company Sweett Group plc, a construction and professional services company for which he had previously worked as a managing director in the Middle East.
Kingston was arrested again in June 2015 in respect of a separate SFO investigation which also remains ongoing.
Tom Payne, representing the SFO in court, told members of the Jury that, despite knowing of the SFO’s investigation, Kingston destroyed mobile phones containing e-mails, text and Whatsapp messages pertinent to the SFO investigation.
General Counsel Alun Milford explained: “Richard Kingston actively took steps to frustrate our inquiries into his involvement, and that of others, in the suspected payment of bribes. We will not hesitate to pursue those who may set out similarly to disrupt our investigations.”
Charges against Richard Kingston were first announced in October 2015.
As reported by Risk UK, Sweett Group plc was sentenced in February last year for Bribery Act offences and ordered to pay £2.25 million following a guilty plea entered in December 2015.
The SFO is particularly grateful to the South Wales Police and the Metropolitan Police Service for their assistance with this investigation.
US Department of Justice secondee
The Criminal Division of the US Department of Justice is to second a lawyer to the UK for two years to work at the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and the SFO in order to further co-operation between the jurisdictions and share important elements of Best Practice.
The secondee will spend one year at the FCA, one at the SFO and one in Washington with the Fraud Section of the Criminal Division, investigating and prosecuting transnational economic crimes and training colleagues in the light of their experience in the UK.
US Assistant Attorney General Leslie Caldwell announced a recruitment exercise to appoint the secondee in December via a post on the US Department of Justice’s blog. Caldwell explained: “To address crime on a global scale, we’re forging deep coalitions with our international enforcement and regulatory counterparts. Our relationship with the UK’s FCA and the SFO is vitally important in these efforts. We can only face today’s global challenges with increased co-operation and a better understanding of our respective legal systems. This new posting represents one step towards achieving those goals.”
David Green, director of the SFO, responded: “This is a concrete demonstration of the close and valued relationship we’ve built with our American colleagues. It’s one which has been so evident in our casework.”