On July 13, 2016, the UK Serious Fraud Office (SFO) charged F.H. Bertling Ltd, a UK-based logistics and freight operations company, along with seven current and former executives, with making corrupt payments in violation of Section 1 of the Prevention of Corruption Act 1906. F.H. Bertling is a subsidiary of Bertling Group, a privately-owned company headquartered in Hamburg, Germany. The conduct at issue is alleged to have occurred between January 2005 and December 2006, and involves an alleged conspiracy to bribe an agent of Sonangol, an Angolan state oil company, to bolster F.H. Bertling’s business in the Republic of Angola.
Among other things, Section 1 of the Prevention of Corruption Act 1906 criminalizes the act of offering any gift or consideration to induce an agent to take action in relation to the agent’s principal. Notably, the Prevention of Corruption Act 1906, and, collectively, the Prevention of Corruption Acts 1889-1916, were repealed and replaced by the Bribery Act 2010, which took effect on July 1, 2011. The conduct at issue, however, occurred prior to the enactment of the Bribery Act and, although the Prevention of Corruption Acts were repealed, the government can still use them to prosecute offenses committed before the repeal.
The SFO accepted the case for investigation in September 2014. F.H. Bertling and the charged individuals are now scheduled to appear before the Westminster Magistrate’s Court on August 4, 2016.