Court Cases, News & what's on - Written by on Tuesday, May 12, 2015 1:12 - 0 Comments

Guilty. With a little help from it’s friends…SFO gets by with a little help from its friends.

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Web-Matthew-Wagstaff-125x125An old case with a final twist underscores that the SFO plays a long game.

In early 2012 we reported 4 convictions in connection with commercial bribery.  In a linked conviction, yesterday Graham Marchment pled guilty.  Marchment it turned out has been holed up in the Phillipines the last several years refusing to return to the UK to face questions from the SFO.

Unfortunately, this worked up until his passport expired and he was forced to return to the UK.

Arrested on arrival the rest is now history.

Its a nice case in a couple of other ways.

First, it’s a nice demonstration of cross law enforcement cooperation.  The SFO worked with the City of London Police, the UK Passport Office, the Home Office, the National Crime Agency and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to draw the matter successfully to a close.

Joint Head of Bribery at the SFO, Matthew Wagstaff (pictured) said:

“This result brings to a close a seven-year SFO-led investigation that covered numerous foreign jurisdictions. Collaboration with national and international agencies enabled the SFO to secure Marchment’s conviction, despite his attempts to evade justice for this greedy and parasitic crime. Special thanks go to City of London Police, who referred the case to the SFO and with whom we worked closely throughout the investigation.”

Second, the case underscores that it isn’t just bribery of foreign public officials which is the focus of UK anti-corruption/bribery enforcement.  In this case confidential information relating to private contracts was, broadly speaking, improperly handed over in exchange for bribes, more detailed facts were contained in our original post all those years ago…

The SFO press release reports:

“Following a joint investigation by the SFO and City of London Police into the awarding of contracts in a series of high-value infrastructure projects, Graham Marchment today pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 2.5 years imprisonment for his role in the conspiracy.   

Marchment, (57), a British national originally from West Sussex, but resident in the Philippines in recent years, pleaded guilty at Southwark Crown Court to three counts of conspiracy to corrupt, contrary to section 1(1) of the Criminal Law Act 1977. He was sentenced to 2.5 year’s imprisonment on each count, to be served concurrently.

His guilty plea follows the conviction after trial of four co-conspirators as part of the same case in January 2012.Between 2004 and 2008, Marchment conspired with his co-defendants, Andrew Rybak, Ronald Saunders, Philip Hammond and others to obtain payments by supplying confidential information in relation to oil and gas engineering projects in Egypt, Russia and Singapore. Marchment worked as a procurement engineer and deliberately leaked confidential information to bidders in exchange for payments disguised as commission. The contracts that Marchment was involved in, which were worth around £40 million, related to projects in the following locations:

  1. Western Desert, Egypt
  2. Sakhalin Island, Russian Federation
  3. Singapore

In passing sentence, HHJ Taylor said:

“You [Marchment] with your experience knew that the information you were passing was confidential and would be useful to rival bidders… You were in a position of trust … [yet] were motivated by greed.”

Marchment was living in the Philippines when the SFO informed him that he was wanted for questioning in the UK. At the time, there was no extradition treaty between the Philippines and the UK. Marchment refused to return to the UK and so did not stand trial with his co-defendants. When his passport expired and he was unable to renew it because of the outstanding arrest warrant, he returned to the UK in December 2014, whereupon he was arrested and charged. He was denied bail.

City of London Police Detective Constable Martina McGrillen said:

“Marchment’s imprisonment is a tribute to both the Serious Fraud Office and the City of London Police’s determination to see justice served in full for all those involved in this case of international corruption. It also sends out a clear message that if you break UK laws you should expect to face the consequences in a British court. Hiding away overseas is not the answer; it is just delaying the inevitable.”

Compensation and confiscation will be determined at a later date.”

A nice way to begin the kick off under a new government in a case which underscores that it is not just bribery of public officials which will be in the cross hairs of UK law enforcement and multi agency cooperation.  The SFO get’s by with a little help from it’s friends.

We await the first DPA and Corporate Bribery Act conviction with baited breath!

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