The SFO has successfully prosecuted its first series of Bribery Act convictions. On Friday the SFO reported that ‘Gary Lloyd West, former Director and Chief Commercial Officer of SAE, James Brunel Whale, former Director, Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of SGG and Stuart John Stone, Director of SJ Stone Ltd, a sales agent of unregulated pension and investment products, were convicted of [a number of offences including] Bribery Act 2010 offences at Southwark Crown Court.’
The first SFO convictions are of individuals, not a corporate and related to a good old fashioned boiler room fraud scheme.
But they are significant.
Media focus has been and remains on the investigation and prosecution of exotic (normally overseas) bribery and fraud involving corporate fat cats and corporations operating in the City of London and other financial centres.
This case was none of the above and at the unglamorous end of SFO investigations – though importantly commenting on the verdict David Green, SFO Director said: ‘These three individuals preyed on investors, many of whom were duped into investing life savings and pension funds. As a result, many lost life-changing amounts of money.
‘This successful conclusion of the SFO’s investigation clearly demonstrates the harm that this type of investment fraud has on victims and the SFO’s ability and determination to bring criminals to justice.’
Put another way, participants in corruption often rationalise bribery on the basis it is a victimless crime. The bribe payer gets the contract, the customer gets the product and everyone’s happy their rationalisation goes.
In this case there were real losers. The bribery facilitated a fraud where people lost out.
Against that backdrop the prosecution team plugged away and brought in a significant result – delivering the SFO its first successful Bribery Act prosecution.
All in all, a nice little result for the SFO.
Sentencing takes place on December 8.
Barry Vitou and Richard Kovalevsky QC blog at thebriberyact.com