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Two men sentenced following corruption trial

12 February, 2015 | News Releases

Two employees of Smith and Ouzman Ltd, a printing company based in Eastbourne, were sentenced today at Southwark Crown Court.  This follows an SFO investigation into corrupt payments made in return for the award of contracts to the company.

Smith and Ouzman Ltd specialises in security documents such as ballot papers and education certificates.  Its chairman, Christopher John Smith, aged 72 from East Sussex, was sentenced to 18 months’ imprisonment, suspended for two years, for two counts of corruptly agreeing to make payments, contrary to section 1(1) of the Prevention of Corruption Act 1906, to run concurrently. He was also ordered to carry out 250 hours of unpaid work and has been given a three month curfew.

Nicholas Charles Smith, the sales and marketing director of the company, aged 43 from East Sussex, was sentenced to three years’ imprisonment for three counts of corruptly agreeing to make payments, to run concurrently. The company itself was also convicted of the same three offences and will be sentenced at a later date.

Both men were disqualified from acting as company directors for six years.

Director of the SFO, David Green CB QC commented:

“This case marks the first convictions secured against a corporate for foreign bribery, following a contested trial. The convictions recognise the corrosive impact of such conduct on growth and the integrity of business contracts in the Developing World.”

In passing sentence HHJ Higgins commented:

“Your behaviour was cynical, deplorable and deeply antisocial, suggesting moral turpitude.”

A hearing has been scheduled to deal with confiscation proceedings against the company and the individuals on 19 October 2015.

Notes for editors:

  1. The SFO is grateful for assistance provided by authorities in Kenya, Ghana and Switzerland.
  2. Those agreeing to make the payments named on the indictment but not charged were Smith and Ouzman Ltd’s agents for Kenya, Ghana or Mauritania and officials employed by organisations in those countries and Somaliland.
  3. The convicted defendants and two others were acquitted of charges relating to Ghana and Somaliland.
  4. The corrupt payments totalling £395,074 were made to public officials for business contracts in Kenya and Mauritania.
  5. The case was accepted for investigation in October 2010.
  6. Four individuals and the company were charged on 30 August 2013 and attended their first court appearance at Westminster Magistrates Court on 23 October 2013. Details of the charge and first hearing issued on 23 October 2010 are available here.
  7. The trial before HHJ Higgins began on 10 November 2014 and the jury was sent out to consider its verdict on 17 December 2014.    Detail of the jury’s verdict on 22 December 2014 is available here.
  8. The period during which the offences occurred was between 1 November 2006 and 31 December 2010.
  9. Counsel for the prosecution were Mark Bryant-Heron QC and Trevor Archer.
  10. Counsel for the defence were:
    • Smith and Ouzman Ltd, Miranda Hill
    • Christopher Smith, Duncan Penny QC
    • Nicholas Smith, Peter Doyle QC and Jane Gow

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