Bribery Law Update – Further Convictions Secured Under the Bribery Act 2010

12 January 2015

Practice Area: Commercial Law

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When the Bribery Act 2010 (the “Act”) came into force in July 2011, there was significant interest surrounding the potential effects of the new system, which was widely regarded as being one of the most stringent anti-corruption systems in the world. Despite high expectations, by the end of 2013 there remained only three convictions under the Act. It seems, however, that 2014 may have been a turning point, as this number was more than doubled and the Serious Fraud Office, an organisation originally expected to play a leading role in investigating and prosecuting bribery offences under the Act, had its first successful conviction.

In June 2014, Chann Sankaran, Kirshna Ganeshan and former Whitehawk FC defender Michael Boateng became the fourth, fifth and sixth convictions under the Act. Sankaran and Ganeshan had come to England from Singapore in 2013, with the intention of targeting players in lower division football clubs in England, where it was felt that it would be easier to bribe football players given their more modest wages. Their plan was to influence the score of matches and communicate this information to betters overseas and they recruited Boateng in order to help them do so.

Unfortunately for the men, the National Crime Agency were watching them closely and on 17 June 2014 they were convicted under the Act in Birmingham Crown Court. Ganeshan and Sakaran were sentenced to five years imprisonment and Boateng was sentenced to sixteen months for his part in the scheme. Hakeem Adelakun was acquitted following a five week trial and cases are still ongoing against former professional footballers Delroy Facey and Moses Swaibu for their involvement in the match-fixing.

In December 2014, three directors were convicted following a Serious Fraud Office investigation into an investment scam in relation to the sale and promotion of biofuel products involving Sustainable Growth Group’s subsidiary, AgroEnergy plc. Two of these convictions were for offences under the Act. Chief Commercial Officer Gary West was found guilty of accepting bribes from Stuart Stone, an Independent Financial Adviser. False invoices had been approved, which allowed Stone to charge 65% commission rates on investor’s funds. On conviction, Stone was sentenced to six years imprisonment and disqualified from being a director for ten years. West was given a thirteen year prison sentence and disqualified from being a director for 15 years. The Serious Fraud Office has confirmed that legal proceedings to establish compensation and confiscation orders against the individuals have commenced.

In addition to these convictions, the Serious Fraud Office has announced the commencement of an investigation into the activities of GlaxoSmithKline in multiple jurisdictions. This increase in activity serves as a helpful reminder that commercial organisations should not be lulled into a false sense of security. The importance of complying with the Act and ensuring your commercial organisation has adequate procedures in place is as great as ever. 

For more information please contact Maeve McClean.

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