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Four charged in U.K. for Nigeria bribes

The U.K. Serious Fraud Office said Monday that three men and a woman were charged in Westminster Magistrates’ Court with two counts of conspiracy to corrupt.

The charges followed a two-year investigation into allegations of corruption at Swift Technical Energy Solutions Ltd, a Nigerian subsidiary of the Swift Group of companies, the SFO said.

Alleged bribes of £180,000 were paid to officials in Nigeria to lower the company’s tax bill.

The defendants, all British nationals and employees of Swift, are:

  • Paul Jacobs, 57, of Hertfordshire, the former chief financial officer,
  • Bharat Sodha, 49, of Middlesex, the former tax manager,
  • Nidhi Vyas, 47, of Middlesex, the former financial controller, and
  • Trevor Bruce, 43, of Northern Ireland, the company’s former area director for Nigeria.

Swift provides manpower for the oil and gas industry.

It employs 3,000 contractors in about 35 countries, the SFO said.

‘The charges relate to payments said to have been made to agents of the Rivers State Board of Internal Revenue and the Lagos State Board of Internal Revenue, both in Nigeria,’ according to the SFO.

The alleged payments were made in 2008 and 2009, before enactment of the U.K. Bribery Act.

The next hearing in the case is scheduled for February 22, 2013. 

The defendants were given unconditional bail.

The Swift Group has been co-operating with the investigation and is not facing criminal charges, the SFO said.

The Serious Fraud Office’s December 17 release is here.

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