Archive for the ‘David Mabey’ Category

U.K. Roundup

Friday, March 4th, 2011

Is the U.K. Serious Fraud Office’s (“SFO”) active engagement policy a bit too active (and too private as well), is anyone left at the SFO to activley engage, the recent Mabey & Johnson individual sentences, and the U.K. anti-corruption champion calls out Bribery Act plc … its all here in a special U.K. Roundup.

Corporate Crime Reporter Questions SFO’s Active Engagement Policy

The SFO has a clear policy of active engagement when it comes to the Bribery Act and I have previously stated (here) that this policy ought to be modeled by other enforcement agencies.”

Corporate Crime Reporter (“CCR”), in a recent piece (here) titled “Behind Closed Doors, UK Anti-Corruption Chief Alderman Advises Corporations, Law Firms” questions whether this engagement approach has become too active and questions whether the engagement needs to take place behind closed doors.

Writes CCR – “You would never see a US federal prosecutor visit a private law firm to give private advice – behind closed doors – to the firm’s corporate defense lawyers and their clients. But the chief law anti-corruption law enforcement official of the UK says – no problem. Over the past couple of years, Alderman has been visiting American law firms regularly. Briefing the lawyers. Answering questions from corporate clients. All behind closed doors. All in secret. To the very same corporations that Alderman will prosecute if they engage in corruption overseas.”

Alderman is quoted as saying he is “an equal opportunity debriefer” and that he has met with, among others, U.K. anti-corruption public interest groups – like Corner House.

As I highlighted in this prior post, in September 2010, I was pleased to accept the invitation of the SFO to visit its offices and meet top-level personnel to discuss Bribery Act and other anti-corruption issues and topics.

Another SFO Departure

With all the recent SFO departures one might wonder whether there is anyone left at Elm House to actively engage.

Recent SFO departures have included Robert Amaee (former SFO Head of Anti-Corruption) who jointed Covington & Burling’s London office and Charlie Monteith (former SFO Head of Assurance) who jointed White & Case’s London office. (See here for the prior post).

Add Kathleen Harris (former head of the Fraud Business Group at the SFO) to the list. Arnold & Porter recently announced (here) that Harris will join the firm’s London office as a partner in June. Arnold & Porter Chair Thomas Milch said Harris “is especially well-positioned to help navigate the UK’s new Bribery Act and address the difficult investigatory, compliance, and defense challenges that companies face in a heightened global enforcement environment.”

As has been reported, Alderman is also looking to retire from the SFO in the next year.

Mabey & Johnson Individual Sentences

This prior post discussed the February 10th guilty verdicts of Charles Forsyth and David Mabey (two former directors of Mabey & Johnson Ltd.) for inflating the contract price for the supply of steel bridges in order to provide kickbacks to the Iraqi government of Saddam Hussein. Richard Gledhill, a Sales Manager for contracts in Iraq, previously pleaded guilty.

Recently, the SFO announced (here) the following sentences:

Forsyth – 21 months imprisonment, disqualified from acting as a company director for five years and ordered to pay prosecution costs of £75,000;

Mabey – eight months imprisonment, disqualified from acting as a company director for two years and ordered to pay prosecution costs of £125,000;

Gledhill – eight months imprisonment, suspended for two years.

As noted in the release:

“In passing sentence HHJ Rivlin QC said ‘The bare truth of this case is that Mr Forsyth bears the most culpability’. In relation to David Mabey, HHJ Rivlin QC said ‘When a director of a major company plays even a small part, he can expect to receive a custodial sentence. SFO Director Richard Alderman said ‘This shows that the SFO is determined to go after senior corporate executives who break the law. I am pleased with the result. It sends out a very strong message from the courts on this type of offending.’”

For additional analysis of the Mabey & Johnson individual sentences see this recent alert from Amaee and John Rupp of Covington & Burling. The authors note as follows. “It is clear that once the UK enacts its new Bribery Act, UK prosecutors will take a close look at the provisions contained in section 14 of the Bribery Act to deal with any Senior Officers of companies who can be said to have consented to or connived in the commission of bribery offences and that the courts will not shy away from imposing appropriate custodial sentences on those found guilty.”

As I noted in the prior post, in just its single Mabey & Johnson prosecution, the SFO would appear to have prosecuted (and now sentenced) more individuals than the U.S. has in its approximately 15 Iraqi Oil for Food corporate enforcement actions combined.

Kenneth Clarke’s Comments

It is not every day that a high-ranking government official lends credence to fear mongering (see here) and mass hysteria (see here) comments regarding a soon-to-be implemented law. But that is what Kenneth Clark, a U.K. Justice Secretary and the U.K’s international anti-corruption champion (see here), did in a recent appearance in the House of Commons. During a Q&A session (see here for the video – approximately the 1 minute 45 second mark) Clark stated as follows: “I hope to put out very clear guidance to save [businesses] from the fears that are sometimes aroused by the compliance industry, the consultants and lawyers who will, of course, try to persuade companies that millions of pounds must be spent on new systems that, in my opinion, no honest firm will require to comply with the Act.”

*****

A good weekend to all.

SFO Flexing It Muscle Even Without the Bribery Act

Thursday, February 17th, 2011

In previous statements (see here for instance) U.K. officials have said that it would be wrong to assume that the U.K. was ignoring bribery issues prior to passage of the Bribery Act.

Case(s) in point – the recent enforcement actions announced by the Serious Fraud Office against MK Kellogg Ltd. and Mabey & Johnson directors.

MK Kellogg Ltd.

Yesterday, the SFO announced (here) that M.W. Kellogg Limited (“MKWL”) has been ordered to pay “just over £7 million [approximately $11.2 million] in recognition of sums it is due to receive which were generated through the criminal activity of third parties.”

This SFO enforcement action has been expected for some time, as noted in this previous post from October 2009.

MKWL was the entity that originally formed the TSKJ consortium the focus of the Bonny Island bribery scandal. See this post for current enforcement statistics as to KBR/Halliburton, Technip, and Snamprogetti / ENI.

MKWL is currently a wholly-owned subsidiary of KBR and as noted in this previous post as well as KBR’s release (here) Halliburton has indemnification obligations to KBR in connection with the SFO enforcement action of “55% of such penalties, which is KBR’s beneficial ownership interest in MWKL.”

According to the SFO release, “the SFO recognized that MKWL took no part in the criminal activity that generated the funds” but that the “funds due to MKWL are share dividends payable from profits and revenues generated by contracts obtained through bribery and corruption undertaken by MWKL’s parent company and others.” The SFO release notes that “MWKL was used by the parent company and was not a willing participant in the corruption.”

As noted in the SFO release, the court order against MKWL was pursuant to the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002. What is the Proceeds of Crime Act? See this piece from John Rupp (Covington & Burling).

Richard Alderman, the Director of the SFO, stated in the release: “our goal is to prevent bribery and corruption or remove any of the benefits generated by such activities – this case demonstrates the range of tools we are prepared to use.”

Mabey & Johnson Directors

In July 2009, the SFO brought an enforcement action against Mabey & Johnson Ltd. (a U.K. company that designs and manufacturers steel bridges). The conduct at issue involved allegations (that the company voluntarily disclosed) that it sought to influence decision-makers in public contracts in Jamaica and Ghana between 1993 and 2001. The prosecution also involved breaches of United Nations sanctions in connection with the Iraq Oil for Food program.

It was the first ever prosecution against a U.K. company for overseas corruption. See here and here for the prior post.

On February 10th, the SFO announced (here) that “two former directors … of Mabey & Johnson Ltd. [Charles Forsyth and David Mabey] have been found guilty of inflating the contract price for the supply of steel bridges in order to provide kickbacks to the Iraqi government of Saddam Hussein.”

According to the release, at the time of the offense, Forsyth was the Managing Director of Mabey & Johnson and Mabey was the Sales Director. The release notes that Richard Gledhill, a Sales Manager for contracts in Iraq, previously pleaded guilty. According to the release, all individuals are to be sentenced on February 23rd.

The U.S. has prosecuted numerous companies in connection with Iraqi Oil-For-Food fraud. See here for such allegations in the ABB matter, here for such allegations in the Innospec matter, here for such allegations in the General Electric matter.

However, these prosecutions have generally been corporate only prosecutions with few related enforcement actions against individuals.

In just its single Mabey & Johnson prosecution, the SFO would appear to have prosecuted more individuals than the U.S. has in its approximately 15 Iraqi Oil for Food corporate enforcement actions combined.