UK printing firm ordered to pay £2.2m over African bribery

13 January 2016

A printing firm convicted of making corrupt payments has been ordered to pay £2.2m.

The UK-based firm, Smith & Ouzman Ltd, was convicted in December 2014 of making corrupt payments totalling £395,074 to public officials in Kenya and Mauritania for business contracts.

The company was ordered to pay £2.2m at a hearing at Southwark Crown Court last week, following a four-year investigation by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO).

The sum included a fine of £1,316,799 as well as £881,158 to satisfy a confiscation order applied for by the SFO, and £25,000 in costs.

Two employees of the company were sentenced in February last year for their role in the corruption. Chairman Christopher John Smith was sentenced to 18 months' imprisonment, suspended for two years, and was ordered to carry out 250 hours of unpaid work. Sales and marketing director Nicholas Charles Smith was sentenced to three years' imprisonment.

Last week, a confiscation order of £18,693 was imposed on Nicholas Smith, payable within eight weeks. He was also ordered to pay costs of £75,000 within nine months.

Christopher Smith was ordered to pay £4,500 within seven days in a confiscation order and costs of £75,000 within three months.

In passing sentence, recorder Andrew Mitchell said: “Corruption of foreign officials is damaging to the country in which the corruption occurs, is damaging to the reputation of UK business and of course in the market in which a business operates. It is anti-competitive.”

Director of the SFO David Green added: “The SFO will pursue such criminal behaviour at both the corporate and individual level.”

After last week’s hearing Smith & Ouzman said the court had acknowledged the extent of its co-operation with the investigation and said it was conducting a review of its business.

Chairman Phil Ouzman said: “We have taken this matter very seriously and learned many lessons during this difficult time. We have demonstrated our commitment, controls and ethos to new and existing customers and are grateful to all of them for continuing to trust in us.”

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