Sweett Group: Property surveyors admits Middle East bribery in relation to an SFO case into its activities in the United Arab Emirates

Hayley Kirton
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A former employee in the company's Dubai office was alleged to have bribed an UAE official (Source: Getty)

The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) has today revealed that Sweett Group has admitted to a bribery offence.

The SFO opened an investigation into the property surveyors in July 2014, regarding its activities in Middle East, particularly the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

In Sweett Group’s interim results statement, which was also published today, chief executive Douglas McCormick, who took up his current role in March, said: “We have also announced this morning the admission by the Group of an offence under Section 7(1) of the UK Bribery Act 2010 in relation to two related contracts entered into in 2013 in the Middle East, identified by the Group and reported to the SFO. Today's announcement brings closure on the Middle East legacy issues a step closer, allowing the Group to progress unencumbered in the future. This is an important next step in the strategic turnaround of the business.”

The SFO has said that more details will be made available when the matter comes to court, but a date for the case had not yet been set. However, it is understood that the company is likely to appear in court either before Christmas or early in the new year.

The results statement for the six months ended 30 September 2015 also revealed that the company had made the decision to exit the Middle East. It also showed that, along with making a profit before tax from continuing operations of £0.4m, the company had incurred material exceptional costs of £0.9m in supporting the SFO investigation during the period.

Sweett Group has declined to comment further.

The company, which was established in 1928, is known for its work on the Shangri-La hotel at the Shard and Bluewater shopping centre in Kent.

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