// Home / / / /

Bribery watch

Fox Williams LLP rounds up the latest cases of bribery and corruption.

April 2012
BP has suspended a senior executive following bribery  allegations.  Lars Dencker Nielsen, BP's global chartering manager, has been accused of offering multi-million pound contracts to one of BP’s shipping suppliers in exchange for cash.  The allegations were brought to the attention of BP Chief Executive, Bob Dudley, by an anonymous letter which was also copied to the Serious Fraud Office (SFO).  The author of the letter, another BP employee, claims that the tanker chartering department has been engaged in bribery and corruption over a five-year period.  While BP conducts its own internal investigation, the SFO is also said to be looking into the matter.
April 2012 During a recent review of anti-bribery and corruption controls at fifteen investment banks, the FSA discovered that nearly half of the institutions reviewed did not have appropriate controls to manage their financial crime risks.  Whilst policies in relation to gifts, hospitality and expenses appeared to have been tightened in line with the Bribery Act, in reality few banks were actually able to assess whether hospitality provided to particular clients could be considered reasonable on a cumulative basis.

Tracy McDermott of the FSA is quoted as saying:"It is imperative that firms have adequate arrangements to control the risks of financial crime. We have seen examples of good practice and some examples of poor practice. Overall, despite the high profile of the issue, the investment banking sector has been too slow and too reactive in managing bribery and corruption risks"
February 2012 On 1 February 2012, Russia signed the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Anti-Bribery Convention.  The result of this is that Russia is legally obliged to investigate all reports by other OECD members of Russian citizens or companies paying bribes anywhere in the world. This step has been welcomed by anti-corruption analysts who have previously believed that the lack of punishment for Russian citizens or companies paying bribes around the world gave Russian business an unfair global competitive advantage.

Royal Mail
December 2011 

The Royal Mail has warned staff not to accept Christmas gifts valued at more than £30 for fear of falling foul of the Bribery Act. Guidance on the Royal Mail website states that whilst a tip is acceptable, doing favours in return is not.  Therefore, seasonal gifts (either of money or in any other form) can be accepted, but staff should “politely decline” gifts worth more than £30. 
December 2011 
Energy company Alstom has been ordered by the Swiss authorities to pay a £27 million fine for failing to stop its employees bribing foreign officials in order to win power contracts. This amounted to millions of Euros being paid to government officials in countries such as Latvia and Tunisia. Further investigations were carried out into Alstom’s involvement in a number of other countries, but sufficient evidence was not found to prove criminal conduct.

The SFO has been conducting its own investigation into Alstom, and has indicated that it would be open to a “sensible” settlement of this matter. This is the biggest corruption case that the SFO has taken on since its inquiry into BAE systems. 
Munir Patel
November 2011 
Munir Patel, the first person to be convicted under the Bribery Act 2010, has now been sentenced after he admitted taking a £500 bribe from a defendant to keep a traffic penalty off a legal database during his time as a clerk at Redbridge Magistrates Court.  The sentence under the Bribery Act was a three year jail term
Bernie Ecclestone
November 2011 
HMRC is planning to investigate the former owner of F1 motor racing, Bernie Ecclestone, regarding the sale of F1 to a German investment banker, Gerhard Gribkowsky. This investigation has arisen following the commencement of a bribery case involving Gribkowsky, to whom Ecclestone sold the business in 2006. Gribkowsky is alleged to have taken a £27.5m bribe from Ecclestone, which Ecclestone claims was paid in order to prevent Gribkowsky reporting false allegations of tax evasion to HMRC.  

Ecclestone is due to appear before a Munich court as a witness, and claims that he is an innocent victim in the matter.
Victor Dahdaleh
October 2011

An international businessman, Victor Dahdaleh, has been charged with corruption offences relating to contracts for the supply of aluminium to Bahrain.  Mr Dahdaleh is alleged to have made payments of bribes to officials of the Bahraini smelting company Aluminium Bahrain B.S.C (“Alba”). These payments were made in connection with contracts with a US company, Alcoa Inc, for supplies of alumina shipped to Bahrain from Australia.  Further payments were also made in connection with contracts to supply goods and services to Alba.

Mr Dahdaleh was released on conditional police bail to appear at City of Westminster Magistrates' Court on 31 October 2011

Munir Patel
August 2011
The clerk who worked at Redbridge Magistrates’ Court has been charged with taking a bribe from a defendant. He is also accused of misconduct in a public office and perverting the course of justice. He was arrested after film footage apparently showed him accepting £500 to keep a traffic penalty off a legal database.

Mr Patel is the first person to face charges under the Bribery Act
Fifa (Mohamed bin Hammam)
July 2011
Mohamed bin Hammam has been banned from all ‘football related activity at national and international level for life’ after being found guilty of attempted bribery following a 2 day hearing by the Fifa ethics committee. Bin Hammam was found to have attempted to buy votes ahead of the recent Fifa presidential election, for which he was running against Sepp Blatter. It is alleged that envelopes containing cash of up to £25,000 were handed to delegates during a meeting in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago in May 2011.

Jack Warner, the former Fifa vice-president resigned, meaning that he did not have to face the ethics committee. Two further officials form the Caribbean Football Union were banned from football related activity for a year.
Willis Ltd   
July 2011
The FSA fined Willis £6.895 million for failings in its anti-bribery and corruption systems and controls. Between 2005 and 2009, Willis made payments of £27 million to third parties to help it win and retain business from overseas clients, particularly in high risk jurisdictions.
Macmillan Publishers Ltd  
July 2011
Macmillan paid £11.3 million in a deal with the SFO after admitting using bribery to win an educational book contract in Sudan. An agent acting for Macmillan approached the World Bank, who had funded the tender process, with a bribe. The World Bank first tipped off the SFO before Macmillan referred itself to the SFO and the City of London Police subsequently raided their offices.
DePuy International Ltd   
April 2011
The SFO obtained a Civil Recovery Order against DePuy International Ltd (‘DePuy’) under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002, requiring DePuy to pay £4.829 million. Johnson & Johnson (‘J&J’) bought DePuy Incorporated, the parent company of DePuy, in 1998. In 2006, J&J began an internal complaint against DePuy in relation to non-compliance with the company rules in connection with the sale of orthopaedic products in Greece. J&J reported their findings to the US Department of Justice and the SFO launched an investigation in 2007.

Further sanctions included an agreement with the US Department of Justice which imposed a penalty of US$21.4 million; a sanction imposed by the US Securities and Exchange Commission of US$24.258 million plus interest of US$6.263 million; and the Greek authorities have frozen assets of the company worth €5.785 million
JJ Bureau Ltd and Opthalmedex Ltd   
April 2011
The sole director of JJ Bureau and Opthalmedex admitted engaging in activities to make funds available to the Iraqi Government in contravention of the Iraq (UN Sanctions) Order 2000 which made it an offence do to so without a HM Treasury licence. The director sold medical goods to Iraq as part of the Oil for Food Programme. The contract price was uplifted by 10% to provide a kickback to the regime.
MW Kellogg Ltd
February 2011  
The SFO obtained an order under Part 5 of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 from the High Court for MW Kellogg to pay over £7 million in recognition of sums due to it which were generated through the criminal activity of others. The SFO recognised that MW Kellogg took no part in the criminal activity which generated the funds through the award of contracts obtained by bribery and corruption by MW Kellogg’s parent company and others.

The agreements would lead to MW Kellogg receiving the payment of £7,028,077 within 14 days of the case.
Mabey & Johnson
February 2011
Two former directors of Mabey & Johnson were charged of inflating the contract price for the supply of 13 steel bridges by 10% in order to provide a kickback to the Iraqi Government.
BAE Systems Plc
December 2010
 After admitting that it had failed to keep adequate accounting records in relation to a defence contract worth US$39.97 million for the supply of an air traffic control system to the Tanzanian Government, a settlement was agreed with the SFO that BAE pay £30 million (minus any fine imposed by Court) for the benefit of the people of Tanzania.

BAE were fined £500,000 by the Crown Court. BAE were also ordered to pay SFO’s costs.

The Judge took the view that BAE were concealing payments to a third party, with the intention that the third party should have free reign to make payments to such people as he thought fit in order to secure the contract for BAE without providing details to BAE.
Learning Skills Council
June 2010
Three people were jailed and another given a suspended sentence for their involvement in a contract rigging ring involving training and skills education.

Following investigations by the SFO and the West Mercia Police, it was found that in contracts of over £1.3 million, an individual who was the central figure in the fraud, received kickbacks of around £270,000.
BHP Billiton  
April 2010
BHP Billiton is in talks with the SFO and the US Securities and Exchange Commission  after admitting that it may have used corrupt practices involving bribery of foreign government officials at some of its exploration projects.

The investigations are ongoing but in the meantime it has been reported that BHP Billiton has banned the use of facilitation payments.
Innospec Ltd  
March 2010
Innospec was fined £8.5 million after admitting bribing employees of an Indonesian state owned refinery and other government officials in Indonesia. Bribes of more than £8.5 million were paid by Innospec to prolong the use of harmful, lead-based fuel in petrol engine cars.
icons Addthis Print Contact Register


tel: +44 (0) 20 7628 2000
10 Finsbury Square, London, EC2A 1AF
View map


  • Top Ranked Chambers UK 2014 - Leading Firm
  • Ranked in Chambers Europe 2013 - Leading Individual
  • Ranked in Chambers Global 2014 - Leading Firm
  • Legal 500 - Leading Firm
  • The Lawyer UK 200 - Listed Firm
  • The Law Society Excellence Awards 2012 - Shortlisted
  • Investors in People - Bronze