10 July 2009 | Jake Kanter
Engineering firm Mabey & Johnson (M&J) today became the first UK company prosecuted for corruption in respect to overseas contracts.
The company, which supplies steel bridging, pleaded guilty at Westminster Magistrates' Court to charges of trying to influence buyers in Jamaica and Ghana to win public contracts between 1993 and 2001.
In a statement Mabey & Johnson said it regretted the conduct and has taken steps to stamp out corruption through training.
The case was brought by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) which was
alerted to the matter following an internal M&J investigation.
SFO director Richard Alderman said: "These are serious offences and it is significant that Mabey & Johnson has cooperated with us to get to this landmark point."
The company said five of its directors have resigned since the investigation came to light in Spring 2008. The company could face a financial penalty when it returns to court for sentencing later this year.
Mabey & Johnson managing director Peter Lloyd said: "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."
The firm also admitted to breaking UN sanctions when it bid for contracts in the Iraq oil for food programme between 2001 and 2002.