Printing firm convicted of corrupt payments to public officials in Africa

6 January 2015

A printing company and two of its employees have been found guilty of making corrupt payments totalling nearly £400,000 to public officials to influence the award of business contracts.

Officials in Kenya and Mauritania received corrupt payments amounting to £395,074 from Smith and Ouzman Ltd - an Eastbourne-based printing firm specialising in security documents such as ballot papers and exam certificates - and two of its directors.

The company was convicted of three counts of corruptly agreeing to make payments, contrary to the Prevention of Corruption Act 1906. Chairman Christopher Smith and sales and marketing director Nicholas Smith were convicted of two and three counts respectively of corruptly agreeing to make payments.

International sales manager Timothy Hamilton Forrester was acquitted of all three counts of corruptly agreeing to make payments, and Smith and Ouzman sales agent Abdirahman Mohamed Omar, was also exonerated of one count of corruptly agreeing to make payments in relation to a contract in Somaliland.

Following the verdict at Southwark Crown court, a spokesperson from Smith and Ouzman said: "This has been a difficult four years for the company. Because sentencing is still pending it is not appropriate to make any further comment. Our focus is now on continuing to deliver an excellent service to our loyal customers."

The Serious Fraud Office brought the case in October 2010, following allegations of the offences that were committed between 1 November 2006 and 31 December 2010. The case marks the first conviction by the SFO of a corporation for offences involving bribery of foreign public officials its director David Green said.

“Such criminality, whether involving companies large or small severely damages the UK’s commercial reputation and feeds corrupt governance in the developing world,” he added. “We are very grateful to the Kenyan authorities for their assistance in this case.”

Sentencing is due to take place on 12 February 2015.

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