Is that a pig or is it a plane…

Hallelujah! A landmark trial has ended with British firm Mabey and Johnson being convicted of bribing foreign officials. The firm admitted to paying bribes to officials around the world to win contracts. This trial is the first of its kind and more are expected to follow.

Mabey and Johnson builds bridges and many of its contracts were subsidised by British taxpayers. The firm is expected to pay out more than £6.5 million to foreign governments as fines and reparations.

Today, at Southwark crown court, London, John Hardy QC for the SFO, revealed the names of 12 individuals in six countries alleged to have received bribes from the Reading-based Mabey and Johnson.

He said the company paid “a wide-ranging series of bribes” totalling £470,000 to politicians and officials in Ghana.

He identified five who travelled to Britain to collect sums of money from £10,000 to £55,000 from bank accounts in London and Watford.

Ministers and officials in Angola, Madagascar, Mozambique, Bangladesh, and Jamaica were also bribed, Hardy told the court.

Hardy said that over eight years, the firm gave £100,000 “to buy the favours” of Joseph Hibbert, a key Jamaican official in awarding contracts, one of them worth £14m.

The court was told how the firm, owned by one of Britain’s richest families, paid bribes totalling £1m to foreign politicians and officials to get export orders valued at £60m to £70m through covert middlemen.

The Mabey family built up a fortune of more than £200m by selling steel bridges internationally.

The company also broke UN sanctions by illegally paying £363,000 to Saddam Hussein’s government from 2001 – 2002

The UK Serious Fraud squad is now eyeing BAE which will open a massive can of worms should it go ahead. I wait with baited breath.

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