UK PLC sentenced and ordered to pay £2.25 million after Bribery Act conviction

Construction and professional services company Sweett Group PLC has been convicted of failing to prevent an act of bribery and ordered to pay £2.25 million.

Sweett Group PLC's subsidiary made corrupt payments to an influential director of Al Ain Ahlia Insurance Company to secure the award of a contract with AAAI for the building of the Rotana Hotel in Abu Dhabi. The Serious Fraud Office investigated and Sweett Group pleaded guilty to a charge of failing to prevent an act of bribery, contrary to Section 7(1)(b) of the Bribery Act 2010.

Director of the SFO David Green CB QC said:

"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, 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." 

An organisation that can prove it has adequate procedures in place to prevent persons associated with it from bribing will have a defence to the section 7 offence. This fine should act as further incentive for companies to ensure their anti-bribery procedures are adequate and are fully implemented across the group.