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SFO secures seven convictions in $20m F.H. Bertling corruption case

26 September, 2017 | News Releases

F.H. Bertling Ltd and six current and former employees have been convicted of conspiracy to make corrupt payments to an agent of the Angolan state oil company, Sonangol, in relation to F.H. Bertling’s freight forwarding business in Angola and a contract worth approximately $20m. One defendant was acquitted of the charges.

On 1 September 2016, Jose Morreale (62) and Stephen Emler (49) pleaded guilty to the charges.

On 17 March 2017, Joerg Blumberg (71), Ralf Petersen (now deceased), Dirk Juergensen (46) and Marc Schweiger (47) pleaded guilty.

On 1 August 2017, F.H. Bertling Ltd pleaded guilty.

Peter Ferdinand (78) was acquitted by a jury at Southwark Crown Court on 21 September 2017.

SFO Director David Green CB QC said:

“F.H. Bertling sought to obtain contracts through bribery. Corrupt practice by British companies such as this undermines the UK’s reputation as a safe place to do business and distorts the market, not to mention the damage it causes in the countries where the bribes are paid.

“This is a clear example of the SFO holding a company and its senior executives to account for corrupt behaviour, following an investigation that required skill, energy and determination to detect the extent and reach of this criminality.”

Notes to editors

  1. The company and current and former employees were convicted of conspiracy to make corrupt payments, contrary to section (1) of the Criminal law Act 1977 and section (1) of the Prevention of Corruption Act 1906.
  2. Sentencing proceedings will be announced at a later date.
  3. Reporting restrictions were lifted on this case today.