News & what's on - Written by on Thursday, August 15, 2013 0:20 - 0 Comments

BREAKING: Serious Fraud Office lays its first Bribery Act charges.

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And it’s not what you’d think.

In a press release issued yesterday the SFO said:

“Four men connected to Sustainable AgroEnergy plc have today been charged with offences of conspiracy to commit fraud by false representation and conspiracy to furnish false information, contrary to section 1 of the Criminal Law Act 1977, in connection with the investigation by the Serious Fraud Office into the promotion and selling of “bio fuel” investment products to UK investors. The value of the alleged fraud is approximately £23m and the offences are said to have taken place between April 2011 and February 2012.

The men, all British nationals, are:

– Gary Lloyd West (age 52) of Hertfordshire, the former Director and Chief Commercial Officer of Sustainable AgroEnergy plc

– James Brunel Whale (age 38) of West Sussex, the former Chief Executive Officer of Sustainable AgroEnergy plc

– Stuart John Stone (age 28) of Shropshire, an Independent Financial Adviser associated with Sustainable AgroEnergy plc

– Fung Fong Wong (age 57) of Middlesex, the former Financial Controller of Sustainable AgroEnergy plc

West, Stone and Wong have also been charged with offences of making and accepting a financial advantage contrary to section 1 (1) and 2 (1) of the Bribery Act 2010.

The SFO commenced proceedings today against the four and they will appear before Westminster Magistrates Court on 23 September 2013.”

The confirmed in its press release that “The bribery charges against West, Stone and Wong are the first to be brought by the SFO under the Bribery Act 2010.”

Those waiting for the first corporate prosecution for failure to prevent bribery (on the assumption – not necessarily true by the way – that it would be easier to prosecute) because it is a ‘strict liability offence’ (which it isn’t) – are still waiting.

We expect that the wait will be over quite soon.

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