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UK court sentences father and son from printing company for Africa bribes

The chairman of a UK-based printing company and his son, the sales and marketing director, were sentenced Thursday for bribing public officials to win contracts in Kenya and Mauritania.

Smith and Ouzman Ltd marketing director Nicholas Smith, 43, was sentenced to three years in prison.

His father, chairman Christopher Smith, 72, was given an 18-month suspended sentence. He was also ordered to serve a three-month curfew and perform 250 hours of unpaid community service.

Both men were disqualified from acting as company directors for six years.

Smith and Ouzman is a printing firm based in Eastbourne. It specializes in security documents such as ballot papers and certificates.

Judge David Higgins said the case bore the marks of “tragedy,” the BBC reported. But he said the father and son were guilty of a “premeditated, pre-planned, sophisticated and very serious” crime.

The company and the two executives were convicted in December by a jury in London’s Southwark Crown Court. The defendants paid about $600,000 in bribes to public officials for printing contracts in Kenya and Mauritania, the SFO said.

The jury found the company and the younger Smith guilty of three counts of corruptly agreeing to make payments contrary to section 1(1) of the Prevention of Corruption Act 1906. The elder Smith was convicted on two counts. The jury acquitted two other defendants.

The company will be sentenced later.

The SFO started its investigation in October 2010. It said offenses occurred from 2006 to 2010.

The court scheduled a hearing to deal with confiscation proceedings against the company and the defendants on October 19, 2015.

SFO Director David Green said Thursday, “This case marks the first convictions secured against a corporate for foreign bribery, following a contested trial.”

In a statement, Smith and Ouzman said, “The company fully accepts accountability for the actions of its directors and we apologize unreservedly. Christopher Smith and Nicholas Smith resigned as directors in December and are no longer part of the business.”

The company said it cooperated fully with the SFO throughout the investigation.

“During this period we have learned many lessons,” Smith and Ouzman said, “and as a result have developed industry leading, anti-bribery and corruption management processes.”

The SFO’s February 12, 2015 release is here.

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Richard L. Cassin is the publisher and editor of the FCPA Blog. He can be contacted here

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