SFO to probe Sweett Group bribery claims

Kasmira Jefford
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SHARES in Sweett Group tumbled 8.4 per cent yesterday after the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) launched a probe into an alleged bribe by a former employee to secure a $100m (£58.2m) construction deal in Morocco.

The 86-year-old surveyor, which oversaw the fit-out of the Shangri-La hotel in the Shard, hired lawyers last year to investigate claims in the Wall Street Journal that a former staff member had paid an official inside the United Arab Emirates president’s personal foundation to win a hospital contract in Morocco.

It was also alleged that a Sweett executive told an architect from a US-based firm that it would have to pay service charges to an official at the foundation to win the project.

The investigation was wound up in January after Sweett’s lawyers were unable to get in touch with the former employee and prove that the allegation was true.

The company relaunched efforts in April, hiring law firm Mayer Brown, after it found new evidence suggesting that “material instances of deception may have been perpetrated by a former employee or employees” during 2009 to 2011.

The employee was working from Sweett’s offices in Dubai. Sweett said it “continues to operate fully” with the SFO, which confirmed it had launched the probe but declined to comment further.

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