A British engineering company, Mabey & Johnson Ltd has admitted involvement in corruption in Ghana. The management of the company appeared at London’s Westminster magistrates court Friday 10th July to answer to charges of corruption.
This is the first prosecution brought in the UK against a company for overseas corruption. The company, which is a supplier of steel bridging and is based in Berkshire, pleaded guilty to the offences. The case was brought by the UK’s serious fraud office (SFO).
The prosecution for corruption arises from the company’s voluntary disclosure to the SFO of evidence to indicate that the company had sought to influence decision-makers in public contracts in Ghana between ‘93 and ‘01. The decision to voluntarily disclose the corruption offences was taken by the management of M&J’s holding company in February ‘08 upon which an investigation was opened.
Mabey & Johnson tried to influence officials in Ghana when bidding for public contracts. The Reading-based firm, which builds temporary bridges, said it regretted its past conduct.
The successful prosecution is the first of its kind against a British company operating overseas. ‘These are serious offences and it is significant that Mabey & Johnson has cooperated with us to get to this landmark point,’ said SFO director Richard Alderman.
The company said that it had brought the matter to the attention of the SFO itself, following an internal investigation.
Commenting on last week’s proceedings, the company’s managing director Peter Lloyd said: ‘We deeply regret the past conduct of our company and we have committed to making a fresh start, wiping the slate clean of these offences.’
Five of Mabey & Johnson’s eight directors have resigned since the allegations came to light. The company is likely to face a substantial cash fine when it returns to court for sentencing.