A substantial fine of £1.4 million in addition to costs
and a confiscation order of £851,152.23 has been made against
The Sweett Group plc following its conviction under section 7 of
the Bribery Act 2010. The company had pleaded guilty to failing to
prevent an act of bribery.
The act complained of involved a payment by a subsidiary to a
third party company to secure a building contract. Referring to
Sweett's ignorance of the payment, the judge said: "The
whole point of section 7 is to impose a duty on those running such
companies throughout the world properly to supervise them. Rogue
elements can only operate in this way – and operate for so
long – because of a failure properly to supervise what they
are doing and the way they are doing it." (See the Serious Fraud Office press release.)
The conviction is a stark warning to other companies: failure to
take action to prevent bribery is just as much a punishable
criminal act as being complicit in bribery. Companies can defend
themselves against such allegations if they can show that adequate
procedures were put in place to prevent bribery but, as of yet,
there is little guidance on what would constitute an "adequate
A full analysis of the Sweett case can be found
here. If you would like guidance on what you can do to avoid
breaching the Bribery Act 2010, contact one of the team
members listed on the right.
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