The Director of the UK’s Serious Fraud Office (SFO), Richard Alderman, has praised the action of the Mabey Holdings group for its “exemplary model of corporate self-reporting and co-operative resolution” of a matter in which unlawful profits were earned and circulated through the group as a result of trading in breach of UN sanctions.

Mabey & Johnson Limited (part of the Mabey Holdings group) reported to relevant authorities that, following an internal investigation, it had discovered a number of irregularities arising in relation to international contracts constituting sanction breaches.  The company co-operated with the SFO, pleaded guilty to charges of corruption and breaches of United Nations sanctions and was convicted in September 2009.

The parent company received a dividend arising from corporate profits that were, as a necessary result of trading in breach of sanctions, unlawful and therefore proceeds of crime was ordered on 13 January 2012 to pay £131,201, under Part 5 of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002.

Although self-referral and co-operation with the SFO is unlikely to lead to the authorities to excuse the activities of a company who has been involved in illegal activity, the result of the action is likely to mitigate both the commercial damage and criminal penalty. The Mabey Holdings group has introduced new management, anti-bribery and corruption procedures and has appointed an independent monitor. Mr Alderman explained that, “the Mabey group is now leading the way in implementing controls and procedures to ensure that it is able to trade ethically in high-risk jurisdictions.”

Mr Alderman hopes that the process of self-reporting and co-operative resolution should be fostered, “across the wider business community when it comes to the self-referral processes the SFO has created.”   The message is, come clean about the skeletons you might have in the closet.

Ronnie Mortimer