Construction services firm admits to bribery charge concerning two 2013 contracts in the region
Construction services firm Sweett Group says it is exiting the Middle East after admitting to a bribery charge concerning two contracts in the region.
Douglas McCormick, chief executive of the company, said in a statement to the London Stock Exchange, where the firm is listed, that the offence had been reported to the UK’s Serious Fraud Office (SFO).
Sweett Group said it expects prosecution to follow, “with the likely outcome of a fine”, the amount of which it said it could not estimate.
“We have today announced our intention to exit the Middle East,” said McCormick. “We have also announced this morning the admission by the Group of an offence under Section 7(1) of the UK Bribery Act 2010 in relation to two related contracts entered into in 2013 in the Middle East, identified by the Group and reported to the SFO.”
The SFO confirmed that Sweett Group had admitted an offence under the bribery act “regarding conduct in the Middle East”.
It said in a statement: “The SFO announced on 14 July 2014 that it had opened an investigation into Sweett Group plc in relation to its activities in the UAE and elsewhere… Further details will be made available when the matter comes before court, at a date still to be determined.”
The bribery probe was reportedly triggered by allegations made by the Wall Street Journal in June 2013, concerning a former Sweett employee and a contract for work on a $100m hospital contract in Morocco.
Sweett Group did not specify whether its recent admission involved that alleged incident. The SFO did not give further details.
Sweett Group reportedly employs about 90 staff across offices in the UAE and wider Gulf.
It said it had seen “continued challenging trading conditions and a declining order book” in the Middle East and North Africa. While Sweett Group confirmed its exit from the region, it said it is “reviewing options”, and did not specify whether the business would be closed or sold off.