On February 19, 2016, the Serious Fraud Office announced that Sweett Group Plc had been convicted and sentenced for failing to prevent bribery by an associated person under section 7 of the Bribery Act 2010. It is the first conviction of the section 7 corporate offence since the Bribery Act came into force on 2011 and it follows an investigation by the SFO into the activities of the Sweett Group in the UAE between December 1, 2012 and December 1, 2015. The investigation uncovered that Sweett Group Plc’s subsidiary company, Cyril Sweett International Limited had made corrupt payments to the Vice Chairman of the Board and Chairman of the Real Estate and Investment Committee of AAAI to secure the award of a contract with AAAI for the building of the Rotana Hotel in Abu Dhabi. Sweett Group, who pleaded guilty to the charges in December 2015, were ordered to pay £2.35 million, made up of a fine of £1.4 million, £851,152 in confiscation and approximately £95,000 in costs. The amount due under the confiscation order must be paid within three months. Half the fine is due by February 19, 2017, with the remainder due in February 2018. The SFO’s related investigation into individuals continues. The judgment provides guidance as to the circumstances in which a subsidiary, including a foreign subsidiary, may be considered to be an “associated person” of its parent. In this case, the Court considered that Cyril Sweett International, despite being a separate and distinct legal entity from its parent company, Sweett Group, was not independently run. The court found that the Sweett Group had treated and run Cyril Sweett International as an extension of its Middle East operations. The SFO’s related investigation into individuals continues.
The SFO press release is available at: https://www.sfo.gov.uk/2016/02/19/sweett-group-plc-sentenced-and-ordered-to-pay-2-3- million-after-bribery-act-conviction/.