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Defendants acquitted in Nigerian corruption trial

2 June, 2015 | News Releases

Three employees of Swift Technical Solutions Ltd were found not guilty at Southwark Crown Court of corruption offences in relation to the tax affairs of a Nigerian subsidiary.

The jury was unable to reach a verdict on one count against the third defendant and was discharged.  The SFO today indicated in court that it did not intend to seek a retrial on that count and a verdict of not guilty was entered.

The defendants were:

Bharat Sodha (age 51) of Middlesex, the former International Tax Manager

Nidhi Vyas (age 49) of Middlesex, the former Financial Controller

Trevor Bruce (age 46) of Northern Ireland, the former Area Director for Nigeria

Bharat Sodha was acquitted of two counts of conspiracy to make corrupt payments.

Nidhi Vyas was acquitted of one count of conspiracy to make corrupt payments on the direction of the judge at the close of the prosecution case and was acquitted by the jury of another similar count.

Trevor Bruce was acquitted of one count of conspiracy to make corrupt payments and the jury was unable to reach a verdict on the other.

The prosecution case was that these defendants conspired to make corrupt payments to officials of two Nigerian Boards of Internal Revenue, one in Rivers State and the other in Lagos State.

Swift co-operated with the SFO, providing documents and making staff available for interview.  It was not charged with any offence.

The SFO is grateful for assistance provided by City of London Police and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission of Nigeria.

Notes for editors:

  1. Swift’s principal business is the specialist supply of manpower to the global oil and gas industry.  By 2010 Swift had business interests in a number of countries including Nigeria, although it no longer operates there.
  2. The first count on the indictment reflected alleged payments of the Nigerian equivalent of £13,088.37 and £109,263.39 made on 14 February 2008 and 5 May 2008 to Harvest Corporate, a Nigerian company.
  3. The second count reflected an alleged payment of the Nigerian equivalent of £61,865.46 made on 28 October 2009 to WTS Adebiyi and Associates, a Nigerian company controlled by Olaleye Adebiyi, a tax advisor and a director of Swift’s Nigerian company.
  4. The jury came back with verdicts of not guilty at Southwark Crown Court on 27 May 2015.
  5. Four were charged and attended their first court appearance at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on 17 December 2012.  Further information is available through the press release issued on that date here.
  6. Paul Jacobs was due to be tried alongside these defendants.  The prosecution sought a nolle prosequi in respect of Paul Jacobs on grounds of his ill health.  It was granted by the Attorney General on 27 January 2015, and announced at a hearing on 28 January 2015.
  7. The judge directed the jury to acquit Nidhi Vyas on count 2 of the indictment, after half time submissions, but she remained on count 1.
  8. The trial before HHJ Loraine-Smith began on 23 March 2015 and the jury was sent out to consider its verdict on 20 May 2015.
  9. The period during which the offences were alleged to have occurred was between 1 January 2008 and 31 October 2009 so these charges were brought under the Prevention of Corruption Act 1906 (not the Bribery Act 2010).
  10. Counsel for the prosecution were Sally-Ann Hales QC and Felicia Davy.
  11. Counsel for the defence were:
    • Bharat Sodha:   Jeremy Carter-Manning QC and Robert Roscoe
    • Nidhi Vyas:       Hugo Keith QC and Rachna Gokani
    • Trevor Bruce:    Andrew Trollope QC and Alison Pople QC

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