Not long after the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) sustained a loss in the trial of former Serco executives, it announced yesterday that the company and subsidiary of Airbus SE, GPT Special Project Management Limited (GPT) pleaded guilty to corruption.
GPT's offending relates to corruption between December 2008 and July 2010 regarding telecommunications contracts awarded to GPT for work undertaken for the Saudi Arabian National Guard.
GPT pleaded guilty to one count of corruption, contrary to section 1 of the Prevention of Corruption Act 1906. The hearing was before Mr Justice Bryan at the Crown Court sitting at Southwark. GPT was ordered to pay a confiscation order of £20,603,000, a fine of £7,521,920 and costs of £2,200,000.
In July 2020 the SFO also brought charges against three individuals who are set to be tried in May 2022. It is understood that the relevant contracts at the heart of this matter predate Airbus' acquisition of GPT in 2007.
This development comes in the same week that the UK implements a new sanctions regime targeting global bribery and corruption, which allows UK authorities to freeze assets of public officials and others concerned with serious corruption. Although it is very early to comment of its effectiveness, it is a tool which will be welcomed by law enforcement as the SFO struggles to secure convictions of individuals accused of bribery.