£11 million fine for Macmillan over corruption concerns

25 July 2011

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25 July 2011 | Adam Leach

Macmillan Publishing has been fined more than £11 million for possibly benefitting from “unlawful conduct”.

The penalty is the result of a long-running joint investigation between the Serious Fraud Office (SFO), World Bank and the City of London Police. The examination began following a 2009 report by the World Bank, which found an agent acting for Macmillan attempted to bribe a bank official to win a tender to provide education material in Sudan. The company referred itself to the SFO after the findings (Law briefs, 24 June 2010).

A subsequent SFO investigation, which looked at public tenders involving the company in Rwanda, Uganda and Zambia between 2002 and 2009, found “it was impossible to be sure that the awards of tenders to the company in the three jurisdictions were not accompanied by a corrupt relationship”.

The SFO added it was “plain” the company might have received revenue as a result of corrupt behaviour. In addition to the £11.26 million fine, Macmillan also paid the SFO’s court costs of £27,000. An independent monitor will also review the company’s behaviour and report to the SFO and World Bank in a year’s time.

Annette Thomas, chief executive of Macmillan, said: “Today’s resolution stems from our extensive co-operation with the authorities and means we can move forward with confidence that we are operating to the most robust standards of anti-corruption policy and procedure, including the use of an independent monitor to assure good conduct and compliance in all our dealings. The company deeply regrets what has passed, but has learned from the experience and has emerged stronger as an organisation.”

The SFO said Macmillan’s response on learning of the allegations had been appropriate, in reviewing its own anti-corruption policies and appointing consultants to implement new compliance procedures.

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