Sentences have been handed down today at Belfast Crown Court in a case in which corrupt payments were made to civil servants in the Ministry of Defence ("MoD") to show favour for the tendering and continuation of CCTV contracts in Northern Ireland valued at £16.2 million.
Sentences were as follows:
a) James Daniel McGeown (d.o.b. 10/02/39) of Co.Antrim, three years' imprisonment, suspended for two years. In addition he was disqualified from being a company director for seven years.
b) William Ronald Marks (d.o.b. 15/06/56) of Co.Antrim, two years imprisonment, suspended for two years.
c) John Symington (d.o.b 17/02/56) of Co.Antrim nine months imprisonment, suspended for two years.
d) Carol Kealey (d.o.b 13/12/58) of Co.Londonderry was given a conditional discharge on 21 February 2012.
In addition, confiscation orders were made against McGeown and Symington of £1 million and £24,550 respectively, payable within six months.
This marks the conclusion of a Serious Fraud Office investigation in partnership with the Ministry of Defence Police (MDP).
Four individuals were charged on 12 February 2010:
- James Daniel McGeown, the owner of VIS Security Solutions Ltd, pleaded guilty on 9 February 2012 to 16 counts of corruption involving ten payments to William Ronald Marks amounting to £66,500, four payments to John Symington amounting to £18,000.
- William Ronald Marks, a Deputy Senior Commercial Officer for the MoD, pleaded guilty on 13 February 2012 to receiving a total of £66,500 from James Daniel McGeown, and three counts of money laundering.
- John Symington, a Senior Quantity Surveyor for the MoD, pleaded guilty on 13 February 2012 to receiving a total of £18,000 from James Daniel McGeown.
- Carol Kealey, the sister of William Ronald Marks, pleaded guilty on 21 February 2012 to an offence of obstructing a police officer in the execution of his duty whilst investigating the financial affairs of Marks.
The MDP commenced an investigation into the conduct of a number of MoD employees and independent contractors involved in the provision and maintenance of MoD buildings and equipment in Northern Ireland in 2002. Due to the size and complexity of the investigation, it referred the case to the SFO to become a joint investigation in September 2004.. It lasted a further six years and involved reviewing a voluminous amount of case material (over 7.5 tonnes of material was uplifted and transferred from the MDP property store to the SFO exhibits store).
The MDP and SFO conducted searches in Northern Ireland in 2004 and April 2005 at residential and commercial addresses and MoD establishments.
The MDP made nine arrests in connection with this enquiry, including two MoD officials. Following consideration of the evidence, the SFO charged James Daniel McGeown, William Ronald Marks, and John Symington with corruption offences. William Ronald Marks was additionally charged, along with Carol Kealey, in relation to his attempts to conceal receipt of the corrupt payments from James Daniel McGeown by having the money deposited into his sister's bank accounts in the UK and Spain.
A confiscation hearing will be held for Marks on 29 June at Belfast Crown Court.
Notes for editors:
1. The Serious Fraud Office is a government department responsible for investigating and prosecuting serious and complex fraud. The SFO is headed by the Director (Richard Alderman) who exercises powers under the superintendence of the Attorney General. These powers are derived from the Criminal Justice Act (1987).
2. Serious Fraud Office charging press release 12 February 2010.
3. Serious Fraud Office guilty pleas press release 21 February 2012.
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