Reed Smith Client Alerts

Graham Marchment was a British engineer in the oil and gas industry, with responsibilities for procurement. He accepted money, described as ‘commission’, from various bidders, in exchange for confidential information about the projects they wished to bid for in places such as Egypt, Russia and Singapore. Obviously this is bribery, albeit not of a government official, but bribery nevertheless.

Marchment acted in conjunction with several other individuals who were convicted in 2012. However, when the charges were laid Marchment was living in the Philippines, which does not have an extradition treaty with the UK. The SFO played the waiting game. Marchment’s passport expired and he was unable to have it renewed without returning to the UK. As soon as he did, six months ago, he was arrested. The sentence, after a discount for a guilty plea, was two-and-a-half years’ imprisonment. The SFO’s press release on the case is here.

This is another of the long tail of pre-Bribery Act cases – the charge was conspiracy to corrupt contrary to the Prevention of Corruption Act 1906. As I never tire of saying, maybe the pre-Bribery Act legal regime was not as useless as some like to paint it. A few other points to note:

  1. The UK authorities are serious about ‘commercial’ bribery. Unlike under the FCPA, private sector bribery is as serious a crime as bribery of public officials.
  2. Going abroad won’t necessarily help an individual suspect unless they are prepared to go a long way off the grid, and stay there. If you have a connection to the UK, don’t expect the authorities to forget about you.
  3. The various UK government agencies are cooperating much more than previously. The SFO went out of its way to thank the City of London Police, Foreign Office, Passport Office and Home Office, all of which contributed to locating Marchment.


Client Alert 2015-128