Company directors involved in foreign bribery were 'cynical, deplorable and deeply antisocial'

Will Green is news editor of Supply Management
16 February 2015

Two directors of a printing firm have received jail sentences for paying bribes to public officials totalling almost £400,000 to win business contracts in Kenya and Mauritania.

At Southwark Crown Court Nicholas Charles Smith, 43, sales and marketing director at Smith & Ouzman, was jailed for three years for three counts of corruptly agreeing to make payments.

Company chairman Christopher John Smith, 72, was sentenced to 18 months’ imprisonment, suspended for two years, for two counts of agreeing to make corrupt payments and he was given a three-month curfew and ordered to carry out 250 hours of unpaid work.

Both men, who were convicted at an earlier hearing, were disqualified from acting as company directors for six years.

Sentencing the pair Judge David Higgins said: “Your behaviour was cynical, deplorable and deeply antisocial, suggesting moral turpitude.”

Smith & Ouzman, based in Eastbourne, specialises in producing security documents such as ballot papers and education certificates. The company itself was also convicted of three counts of making corrupt payments and will be sentenced at a later date.

Director of the Serious Fraud Office David Green said: “This case marks the first convictions secured against a corporate for foreign bribery, following a contested trial. The convictions recognise the corrosive impact of such conduct on growth and the integrity of business contracts in the developing world.”

A hearing to deal with confiscation proceedings against the firm and the individuals is due to take place in October 2015.

Afterwards the firm "apologised unreservedly" and said the two defendants had resigned as directors in December 2014 and were no longer part of the business. "The company co-operated fully with the SFO throughout its lengthy investigation," the firm said in a statement. "During this period we have learned many lessons and as a result have developed industry-leading anti-bribery and corruption management processes."

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