Abbot Group Limited turns itself in to the tune of £5.6 million
The Scottish Crown Office announced today that some £5.6 million of profits gained from unlawful behaviour is to be recovered by the Scottish Civil Recovery Unit from Abbott Group Limited (Abbot) after it confessed to benefitting from corrupt practices in 2007. The offences of bribery and corruption related in particular to payments made in connection with a contract between a subsidiary and an oil and gas company based overseas. No further details about the nature of the payments have been released.
The subsidiary entered into the contract in 2006 and the payments were made in 2007. The sum to be paid by Abbot represents the profit made by the company under the contract.
The Crown Office reported that the corrupt payments came to light in May 2011 following enquiries by an overseas tax authority. An internal investigation by a firm of solicitors followed and a firm of accountants instructed by Abbot itself. Abbot then reported the results of the investigation to the Scottish Crown Office under the self-reporting initiative in relation to matters relating to bribery and corruption.
Under the Scottish self-reporting initiative (which runs to June 2013), organisations who have engaged in unlawful practices, and who fit certain criteria, can report incidents of bribery and corruption. The potential resolution could be through a civil settlement, as opposed to criminal charges being brought. The self-reporting initiative has ended in England and Wales with the Government now introducing deferred prosecution agreements.
The Abbott settlement is the first reported outcome of the initiative. The Crown Office has shown that they will deal with these matters swiftly and in such a way to ensure that companies do not benefit from the proceeds of crime.
This is an encouraging sign that businesses are taking corruption prevention seriously and are willing to expose corruption when it does take place.