Sweett Group plc sentenced and ordered to pay £2.25 million after Bribery Act conviction

Construction and professional services company Sweett Group plc has been sentenced and ordered to pay £2.25 million as a result of a conviction arising from a Serious Fraud Office (SFO) investigation into its activities in the United Arab Emirates.

The company pleaded guilty in December 2015 to a charge of failing to prevent an act of bribery intended to secure and retain a contract with Al Ain Ahlia Insurance Company (AAAI), contrary to Section 7(1)(b) of the Bribery Act 2010.

The relevant conduct occurred between 1 December 2012 and 1 December 2015.

Damage to commercial reputation

David Green CB QC, director of the SFO, commented: “Acts of bribery by UK companies significantly damage this country’s commercial reputation. This conviction and punishment, the SFO’s first under Section 7 of the Bribery Act 2010, 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.”

His Honour Judge Beddoe described the offence as a system failure and said that the offending was patently committed over a period of time.

The SFO’s investigation into Sweett Group plc, which commenced on 14 July 2014, uncovered that its subsidiary company, Cyril Sweett International Limited, had made corrupt payments to Khaled Al Badie (the vice-chairman of the Board and chairman of the Real Estate and Investment Committee of AAAI) to secure the award of a contract with AAAI for the building of the Rotana Hotel in Abu Dhabi.

The amount is broken down as £1.4 million in fines and £851,152.23 in confiscation. Additionally, £95,031.97 in costs were awarded to the SFO.

SFO’s investigations continuing

His Honour Judge Beddoe ordered the confiscation order to be paid within three months. Half of the fine is to be paid by 19 February 2017 and the other half by 19 February 2018.

The SFO’s investigation into individuals continues.

Contrary to announcements made by Khaled Al Badie, there has been no agreement between Sweett Group plc and the SFO.

The Serious Fraud Office is an independent Government department responsible for investigating and prosecuting serious and complex fraud, bribery and corruption. Director David Green CB QC exercises powers under the superintendence of the Attorney General. These powers are derived from the Criminal Justice Act 1987.

About the Author
Brian Sims BA (Hons) Hon FSyI, Editor, Risk UK (Pro-Activ Publications) Beginning his career in professional journalism at The Builder Group in March 1992, Brian was appointed Editor of Security Management Today in November 2000 having spent eight years in engineering journalism across two titles: Building Services Journal and Light & Lighting. In 2005, Brian received the BSIA Chairman’s Award for Promoting The Security Industry and, a year later, the Skills for Security Special Award for an Outstanding Contribution to the Security Business Sector. In 2008, Brian was The Security Institute’s nomination for the Association of Security Consultants’ highly prestigious Imbert Prize and, in 2013, was a nominated finalist for the Institute's George van Schalkwyk Award. An Honorary Fellow of The Security Institute, Brian serves as a Judge for the BSIA’s Security Personnel of the Year Awards and the Securitas Good Customer Award. Between 2008 and 2014, Brian pioneered the use of digital media across the security sector, including webinars and Audio Shows. Brian’s actively involved in 50-plus security groups on LinkedIn and hosts the popular Risk UK Twitter site. Brian is a frequent speaker on the conference circuit. He has organised and chaired conference programmes for both IFSEC International and ASIS International and has been published in the national media. Brian was appointed Editor of Risk UK at Pro-Activ Publications in July 2014 and as Editor of The Paper (Pro-Activ Publications' dedicated business newspaper for security professionals) in September 2015. Brian was appointed Editor of Risk Xtra at Pro-Activ Publications in May 2018.

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