British steel-bridge manufacturer Mabey & Johnson Ltd. pleaded guilty on July 10 to corrupt practices in Jamaica and Ghana between 1993 and 2001 and violating United Nations’ sanctions against trade with Iraq in 2001 and 2002. The company is the first to be prosecuted in the U.K. for corruption overseas and faces court sentencing later this summer, says the Serious Fraud Office, the independent government agency that investigated and prosecuted the case.
Mabey & Johnson, based in Reading, England, supplies small to medium size prefabricated modular bridges. The firm volunteered evidence of corruption to authorities last year following its own internal investigation in 2007, says a fraud office official. Allegations of corruption were made by a former employee, says a company spokesman. The firm says five of eight directors quit in spring 2008, and new management was installed. Fraud office officials decline to say whether they are pursuing charges against individuals.
“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,” says Peter Lloyd, Mabey’s new managing director. Disclosing its corruption findings to U.K. authorities could be a “template for others facing a similar situation,” he adds.
“It is significant that Mabey & Johnson has cooperated with us to get to this landmark point,” says Richard Alderman, fraud office director. “This has enabled this case to be dealt with in just over a year and is a model for other companies who want to self-report corruption and have it dealt with quickly and fairly.”