Macmillan Publishers Limited, which last year acknowledged attempts to bribe World Bank employees to win book sales in Africa, will pay £11 million in a negotiated civil settlement announced today with the Serious Fraud Office.
The World Bank debarred Macmillan last year for three years, and the company voluntarily withdrew from all public tenders by its education division business in East and West Africa, regardless of the source of funds.
Today’s civil enforcement action was based on the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (POCA) and not the U.K. Bribery Act, a criminal law that took effect on July 1 and only has prospective application. POCA is a far-reaching anti-money laundering and forfeiture statute.
The SFO was criticized by judges in a couple of earlier cases for attempting to settle criminal prosecutions of overseas bribery through U.S.-style plea agreements. But after today’s civil settlement with Macmillan, SFO director Richard Alderman said,
I am pleased with this outcome. Civil recovery allows us to deal with certain cases of corporate wrong-doing effectively. It delivers value for money to the public by saving the cost of lengthy investigations and protracted legal proceedings and removes any property obtained as a result of the wrong-doing. At the same time it forces the company to reform its practices for the future.
As part of the settlement, Macmillan agreed to a review by a compliance monitor “who will report to the director of the SFO within twelve months and to the World Bank. The monitor must meet strict criteria including clear independence from the company.”
View the SFO’s July 22, 2011 release here.
The World Bank’s April 30, 2010 announcement of Macmillan (U.K.) Limited’s debarment is here.
Macmillan Publisher’s May 6, 2010 announcement is here.