Mabey and Johnson fined £3.5m for payments to Saddam Hussein's regimeBy Victoria Corbett
September 30, 2009
A Twyford firm has been fined nearly £3.5 million after being convicted of charges relating to corruption in Ghana, Jamaica and Iraq, including payments to Saddam Hussein’s regime.
Mabey and Johnson, which has its main offices in the Floral Mile, has pledged it has made a “fresh start” since the allegations came to light.
The firm, which designs and builds steel bridges used in more than 115 countries, was fined on Friday when it was sentenced at London’s Southwark Crown Court.
In passing sentence, the court took into account what was described as the company’s exemplary conduct in reporting itself to the prosecution authorities and providing extensive assistance with their inquiry.
The council will have to pay a total of £6.61 million, which is made up of the fine, compensation to affected countries, confiscation of profits, the prosecution’s costs and the cost of an independent monitor to oversee and report on its future conduct.
The company, which is now under new management, admitted two charges of corruption and one of breach sanctions in August.
The corruption offences, which primarily occurred in the 1990s, saw the firm try to influence officials in Jamaica and Ghana when bidding for public contracts.
Mabey and Johnson also paid money to Saddam Hussein’s Iraq regime, violating the terms of the UN oil-for-food programme. This arose from decisions taken in 2001.
Peter Lloyd, Mabey and Johnson’s new managing director, said: “What our company did in the past is a matter of deep regret.
“We have now made a fresh start, having wiped the slate clean of these offences.
“Part of that means the payment of the fines ordered by the court today.
“We have said we will pay appropriate compensation as a further expression of out regret.
“These costs will hurt the company and they are a real punishment. But our goal is to ensure we can protect jobs and take our business forward.
“We believe we can maintain a robust UK-based manufacturing and export business, built on ethically-led trading relationships.
“We have a strong and committed team and excellent products, which make a real difference to communities around the world.”
Since spring 2008, five of Mabey and Johnson’s directors have stepped down and extensive training has taken place throughout the organisations, according to the firm.
A Serious Fraud Office (SFO) approved independent monitor has been appointed to monitor and report on the effectiveness of the firm’s new compliance programme and other ethical compliance measures.
Mr Lloyd added: “Business ethics are at the heart of our business and new whistle-blowing procedures have been introduced.
“All our sales and associated systems have been reviewed and will be regularly updated, while all relevant staff have been extensively trained or retrained.
“We have made a fresh start as a company.”
The SFO investigation of Mabey began in early 2008 when the firm voluntarily disclosed evidence that it may have engaged in corrupt purposes.
The information came to light during an internal investigation by the firm’s solicitors, Herbert Smith LLP.