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First Bribery Act defendants have court date

Three men charged under the U.K. Bribery Act will appear in a London court Monday.

They're among four defendants connected to Sustainable AgroEnergy plc charged in a £23 milion fraud for promoting and selling bio fuel investment products to U.K. investors.

In addition to fraud charges, three of the defendants were also charged with ‘making and accepting a financial advantage contrary to section 1 (1) and 2 (1) of the Bribery Act 2010,’ the Serious Fraud office said.

Gary Lloyd West, 52, of Hertfordshire, Stuart John Stone, 28, of Shropshire, and Fung Fong Wong, 57, of Middlesex are the first defendants to be charged by the SFO under the Bribery Act.

The SFO opened its investigation in late 2011 and brought the charges in August this year.

The defendants, all U.K. citizens, are due to appear in the Westminster Magistrates Court.

Sustainable AgroEnergy plc and its parent company Sustainable Growth Group were placed in administration in March 2012.

The SFO and City of London police are reportedly working on about 25 other bribery-related investigations.

The U.K. Sentencing Council issued draft sentencing guidelines in June for financial crimes including bribery.

The guidelines (available as a pdf here) aren't compulsory for judges.

They suggest a rating system for culpability that's intended to bring consistency to sentencing in the courts of England and Wales.