NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 23 – Two employees of a UK printing firm have been convicted for bribing Kenyan elections officials.
Smith and Ouzman Ltd and two employees were convicted at Southwark Crown Court as a result of a Serious Fraud Office investigation into corrupt payments made for the award of business contracts to the company to Kenyan officials.
The company had done printing works for Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission and the Kenya National Examination Council to the company.
The company which specialises in security documents such as ballot papers and certificates was convicted of three counts of corruptly agreeing to make payments, contrary to section 1 of the Prevention of Corruption Act 1906.
The former chairman of Smith and Ouzman, Christopher John Smith, from East Sussex, was convicted of two counts of corruptly agreeing to make payments while the former sales and marketing director Nicholas Charles Smith was convicted of three counts of corruptly agreeing to make payments.
SFO Director, David Green thanked the Kenyan Government for being helpful in the investigations and stated that this will ensure that such incidents do not recur.
“This is the SFO’s first conviction of a corporate for offences involving bribery of foreign public officials. Such criminality whether involving companies large or small severely damages the UK’s commercial reputation and feeds corrupt governance in the developing world. We are very grateful to the Kenyan authorities for their assistance in this case,” he said.
International sales manager, Tim Forrester and company agent, Abdirahman Omar who were also implicated in the schemes were however acquitted.
Officials of the printing firm are accused of paying Sh47 million in bribes in Kenya and another Sh10 million elsewhere in Africa.
Sentencing for the two convicted is due to take place in February next year.
According to the Kenyan agents arranging bribes for a British security printer used coded references to ‘chicken’ in their emails, a London court was told Tuesday.
According to reports in the Eastbourne Herald, agents used the code-word in emails about underhand cash deals with corrupt officials bribed to seal lucrative contracts between Smith & Ouzman Ltd and organisations such as the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission of Kenya and the Kenya National Examination Council.
The offences are said to have taken place between November 2006 and December 2010 and relate to transactions in Mauritania, Ghana, Somaliland and Kenya.
Smith & Ouzman Limited is a printing company based in Eastbourne, incorporated in 1939 and specialises in security documents such as ballot papers, exam certificates and payment vouchers.