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Thursday
Dec222016

Former Sweett Group exec jailed for destroying bribery evidence

A former construction company executive who worked in the Middle East was sentenced to prison Wednesday after a London jury convicted him of destroying evidence during an investigation into overseas bribery.

Richard Kingston, 54, from South Wales, was jailed for a year for "concealing, destroying, or otherwise disposing" of two mobile phones.

Kingston knew or suspected data on the phones would be relevant to an investigation by the UK Serious Fraud Office, the SFO said.

He formerly worked as a Managing Director of Sweett Group plc in the Middle East.

Sweett pleaded guilty in December 2015 to failing to prevent bribery. It was ordered to pay a penalty of £2.25 million (about $2.8 million).

A subsidiary, Cyril Sweett International Limited, bribed the vice chairman of AAAI to secure a contract to build the Rotana Hotel in Abu Dhabi.

Abu Dhabi owns part of AAAI.

The SFO said the offenses occurred between December 2012 and December 2015.

Kingston was arrested in December 2014 on suspicion of bribery.

He was arrested again in June 2015 during a separate SFO investigation that's ongoing.

Tom Payne, representing the SFO in court, told the jury that despite knowing about the SFO’s investigation, Kingston destroyed mobile phones containing emails, texts, and Whatsapp messages pertinent to the SFO investigation.

SFO General Counsel Alun Milford said in a statement Wednesday: “Richard Kingston actively took steps to frustrate our inquiries into his involvement, and that of others, in the suspected payment of bribes. We will not hesitate to pursue those who may set out similarly to disrupt our investigations.”

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Richard L. Cassin is the publisher and editor of the FCPA Blog.