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Printing Company Corruption Charges

23 October 2013

Printing Company Corruption Charges

A UK based printing company specialising in security documents such as ballot papers, as well as four individuals, appeared in court on corruption charges today.

Smith & Ouzman Limited, two of its directors, an employee and one agent have been charged by the Serious Fraud Office with offences of corruptly agreeing to make payments totaling nearly half a million pounds, contrary to section 1 Prevention of Corruption Act 1906.  It is alleged that these payments were used to influence the award of business contracts to the company.

The individuals, all British nationals, are:

-          Chris Smith (age 70), of East Sussex, the former Chairman of Smith and Ouzman Limited

-          Nick Smith (age 42), of East Sussex, the Sales and Marketing Director of Smith and Ouzman Limited

-          Tim Forrester (age 45), of East Sussex, the International Sales Manager for Smith and Ouzman Limited

-          Abdirahman Omar (age 37 ), of London, an agent for Smith and Ouzman Limited

The alleged offences are said to have taken place between November 2006 and December 2010 and relate to transactions in Mauritania, Ghana, Somaliland and Kenya.

A preliminary hearing took place on 6 November 2013 at Southwark Crown Court. The defendants are released on unconditional bail. A plea and case management hearing is fixed 27 January 2014, with the trial listed for 10 November 2014. Both hearings will take place at Southwark Crown Court.

Notes for Editors:

1)    This case was accepted by the SFO for investigation in October 2010 and written charges were issued in August.

2)    The value of the corrupt payments total £413,552.12. The OECD states corruption in the public sector hampers the efficiency of public services, undermines confidence in public institutions and increases the cost of public transactions. It adds that integrity is essential for building strong institutions resistant to corruption.

3)    Smith & Ouzman Limited is a printing company based in Eastbourne, incorporated in 1939. It specialises in security documents such as ballot papers, exam certificates and payment vouchers.

4)    The Serious Fraud Office is an independent government department responsible for investigating and prosecuting serious and complex fraud, bribery and corruption. It is headed by the Director, David Green CB QC, who exercises powers under the superintendence of the Attorney General. These powers are derived from the Criminal Justice Act 1987.

5)    The strict liability rule in the Contempt of Court Act 1981 applies.

6)    For further information please call the SFO press office on 020 7239 7000 / 7004 or email press.office@sfo.gsi.gov.uk