28 Sep 09. Mabey & Johnson Ltd appeared at Southwark Crown Court today for sentence in relation to admitted offences of overseas corruption and breaching UN sanctions. The company is to pay £6.6m. This is the first prosecution brought in the UK against a company for these offences. The company, which is a supplier of steel bridging and is based in Twyford, Berkshire, had already indicated at a magistrates’ court hearing on 10 July 2009 that it would plead guilty to these offences.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 Jamaica and Ghana between 1993 and 2001. The decision to voluntarily disclose the corruption offences to the SFO was taken by the management of Mabey & Johnson’s holding company in February 2008 whereupon an investigation was opened. (Source: Business4Media.com)
30 Sep 09. Corruption investigators were on Wednesday poised to press criminal charges over BAE Systems’ arms deals as the long-running probe into one of the country’s most-politically charged cases finally comes to a head, the Financial Times has learned. Last-ditch efforts by the Serious Fraud Office to secure an agreed guilty plea by the company were still live but looked unlikely to result in a deal before the agency’s self-imposed deadline of midnight, people familiar with the matter said. An SFO decision to prosecute would mean Baroness Scotland, attorney-general, had to decide whether to proceed with a case that has been hugely controversial since Tony Blair and other ministers put pressure on investigators to stop probing BAE’s giant Saudi Arabian contracts.
Charges by the SFO look inevitable if the high-risk strategy of trying to force the company to plead is not successful, people familiar with the matter said. The attorney-general would then have to give her consent to prosecution, which – based on previous and much less high-profile cases – could take weeks or even months. A prosecution would provide a final showdown in a bitter case in which BAE has fiercely contested allegations that it paid hundreds of millions of pounds of bribes to win business in Saudi Arabia, Tanzania, South Africa, Romania, the Czech Republic and other countries. It would also throw back into the political sphere an investigation in which interference by ministers severely damaged the government’s reputation and led to a stinging High Court rebuke, later overturned by the House of Lords. The SFO is pressing for a deal in which the company would plead guilty to limited corruption charges in exchange for more lenient treatment, people familiar with the matter said. A similar pioneering agreement between prosecutors and Mabey & Johnson, the construction group, ended last week with the company paying out about £6.5m in fines, confiscation costs and reparations. A guilty plea to corruption would have potentially severe consequences for BAE reputationally and commercially, with the possibility that it could be debarred from lucrative public works contracts in the US, European Union and elsewhere. Both the SFO and BAE declined to comment.
BAE has previously denied bribery and said that it is co-operating with the authorities as part of a policy of “allowing the ongoing investigations to run their course”. The company is also under investigation by the US Department of Justice and other national authorities, although there were no immediate signs that an SFO decision would be co-ordinated with similar announcements elsewhere. (Source: FT.com)
29 Sep 09. IndiaCo Ventures Ltd, a listed investment firm, has launched a
$500m private equity fund, India Growth Opportunity Fund (IGOF), to invest across diverse sectors in the country. IndiaCo has also recently roped in Brian Brown, former managing director with Citigroup Global Markets, and Mohit Burman, part of the Dabur India’s Burman family, as non-executive independe