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Tuesday
Sep262017

UK Enforcement: F.H Bertling and six employees guilty of overseas bribery

The UK Serious Fraud Office said Tuesday that F.H Bertling Ltd and six current and former employees were convicted of conspiracy to make corrupt payments to an agent of the Angolan state oil company, Sonangol.

The bribes helped Bertling win and keep a freight and forwarding contract worth about $20 million.

The defendants were charged with conspiracy to make corrupt payments contrary to section (1) of the Criminal law Act 1977 and section (1) of the Prevention of Corruption Act 1906.

The bribery took place between January 2005 and December 2006.

On September 1, 2016, Jose Morreale, 62, and Stephen Emler, 49, pleaded guilty to the charges.

On March 17 this year, Joerg Blumberg, 71, Dirk Juergensen, 46, and Marc Schweiger, 47, pleaded guilty.

A sixth individual, Ralf Petersen, also pleaded guilty but is now deceased, the SFO said.

F.H. Bertling Limited pleaded guilty in August.

The company is a UK-based subsidiary of the Germany-headquartered Bertling Group. The group provides global logistics services through 65 subsidiaries in 35 countries with over 1,100 employees.

No sentencing dates were set.

A final defendant, Peter Ferdinand, 78, was acquitted by a jury at Southwark Crown Court on September 21, according to the SFO. He was formerly a managing director of F.H. Bertling.

He said he'd left the company before the corrupt payments occurred.

The SFO investigation started in September 2014.

SFO Director David Green said Tuesday the convictions were "a clear example of the SFO holding a company and its senior executives to account for corrupt behavior . . . ”

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