Sweett Group faces prosecution after admitting bribery in the Middle East

UK-headquartered consultant Sweett Group expects to be prosecuted after this morning admitting a bribery offence relating to an investigation by the UK’s Serious Fraud Office into two contracts in the Middle East.

The announcement, which followed allegations made in The Wall Street Journal in June 2013, came as the firm also revealed plans to exit the Middle Eastern construction market after completing the sale of its Far East and India operations.

Sweett’s remaining operation is being restructured into five business units covering: London; England and Wales; Scotland and Ireland; Mainland Europe; North America.

Closure: Sweett Group chief executive Douglas McCormick (Sweet Group)

A company statement this morning said: "The SFO investigation with respect to Sweett Group into the allegations made in the Wall Street Journal in June 2013 is at an end.

"During the process of our own investigations two related contracts within the Middle East were identified as suspicious and were duly reported to the SFO.

"This has led to an admission by Sweett Group of an offence under Section 7(1) of the UK Bribery Act 2010 – failing to prevent an associated person bribing another to obtain or retain business for the company.

"Subsequent prosecution is expected, with the likely outcome of a fine," it added.

In its statement Sweett pointed out that the offence does not attract a mandatory ban from public sector tendering under EU/UK law.

Douglas McCormick, chief executive officer, said: "Today’s announcement brings closure on the Middle East legacy issues a step closer, allowing the group to progress unencumbered in the future.

"This is an important next step in the strategic turnaround of the business."

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