What you need to know:
- Investigation that found that payments totalling nearly Sh70.5 million were made to public officials in four African countries.
- A sales agent, were acquitted of one count each of corruptly agreeing to make payments.
British company Smith and Ouzman Ltd and two of its most senior officials, Christopher John Smith and Nicholas Charles Smith, were Monday found guilty of corruptly agreeing to make payments to officials of the Interim Independent Electoral Commission and Kenya National Examinations Council.
In a trial that has been going on since November 10, the two were found, between October 1, 2008 and December 31, 2010, to have worked with their Kenyan agent Trevy James Oyombra to corruptly make payments to top Kenya electoral commission and examinations council officials as an inducement or reward for showing favour to Smith and Ouzman in relation to the award of contracts to print materials for them.
John Smith, 71, and Charles Smith, 43, were convicted at Southwark Crown Court by a jury of 12 after three days of deliberation following a Serious Fraud Office (SFO) investigation that found that payments totalling nearly half a million pounds (Sh70.5 million) were made to public officials for business contracts in four African states — Kenya, Ghana, Mauritania and Somaliland.
Smith and Ouzman, a printing firm which specialises in security documents such as ballot papers and certificates, was convicted of three counts of corruptly agreeing to make payments, contrary to section 1(1) of the Prevention of Corruption Act 1906.
John Smith, former chairman of Smith and Ouzman, was convicted of two counts of corruptly agreeing to make payments while his son Charles Smith, a former sales and marketing director at the firm, was convicted on three counts of the same offence.
Mr Timothy Hamilton Forrester, the firm’s former international sales manager, and Mr Abdirahman Mohamed Omar, a sales agent, were acquitted of one count each of corruptly agreeing to make payments.
“This is the SFO’s first conviction of a corporate for offences involving bribery of foreign public officials. Such criminality, whether involving companies, large or small, severely damages the UK’s commercial reputation and feeds corrupt governance in the developing world.
"We are very grateful to the Kenyan authorities for their assistance in this case,” SFO Director David Green said.
The two, who will be sentenced on February 12, were ordered to surrender their passports within 48 hours and liaise with probation services.
Presiding Judge HHJ Higgins warned them that custodial sentence is “almost inevitable” considering the seriousness of the case.
In a statement, the SFO thanked authorities in Kenya, Ghana and Switzerland which assisted in the investigations.