Former MoD buyer pleads guilty to accepting bribes

23 February 2012

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23 February 2012 | Angeline Albert

A former Ministry of Defence (MoD) purchaser has admitted accepting payments worth £66,500 to favour a supplier bidding for CCTV contracts.

William Marks, who previously worked as a deputy senior commercial officer for the MoD in Northern Ireland, pleaded guilty at Belfast Crown Court to 11 counts of corruption related to receiving bribes, and to three counts of money laundering.

According to the Serious Fraud Office (SFO), Marks - 55 from County Antrim - received the bribes from James McGeown, owner of VIS Security Solutions, who sought favourable consideration for the tendering and continuation of CCTV contracts with the MoD.

McGeown - 73 also from County Antrim - secured contracts worth a total of £16.2 million through the bribes, and pleaded guilty to 16 counts of corruption involving payments to MoD employees.

Marks’ sister, Carol Kealey - 53 from County Londonderry - pleaded guilty to obstructing a police officer in the execution of his duty who was investigating Marks’ financial affairs. The charge stated Kealey had conducted financial transactions for her brother through a bank account in her name.

In addition, John Symington - 56 from County Antrim – a former senior quantity surveyor at the MoD, also pleaded guilty to four counts of corruption and receiving a total of £18,000 in bribes from McGeown.

The four defendants were charged by the SFO in February 2010. Sentencing for the four at Belfast Crown Court is set for 9 March. Corruption contrary to the Prevention of Corruption Act 1906 carries a maximum sentence of seven years in prison. The Proceeds of Crime (Northern Ireland) Order 1996 allows the Court to recover money obtained from criminality.

Update, 3 April 2012

On 30 March, William Marks was sentenced at Belfast Crown Court to two years in jail, suspended for two years.

James McGeown was sentenced to three years' imprisonment, suspended for two years. He was also disqualified from being a company director for seven years.

John Symington received nine months imprisonment, suspended for two years.

Confiscation orders were also made against McGeown and Symington of £1 million and £24,550 respectively, payable within six months.

Carol Kealey was given a conditional discharge on 21 February.

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