Sweett said that it expects to receive a fine but will still be able to pitch for public sector contracts at home.
The admission follows an internal investigation that began when the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) investigated allegations made in a Wall Street Journal newspaper report.
In a statement today, Sweet said: “We continue to co-operate with the SFO. The SFO investigation with respect to Sweett Group into the allegations made in the Wall Street Journal in June 2013 is at an end. During the process of our own investigations two related contracts within the Middle East were identified as suspicious and were duly reported to the SFO. This has led to an admission by Sweett Group of an offence under Section 7(1) of the UK Bribery Act 2010 (failing to prevent an associated person bribing another to obtain or retain business for the company). Subsequent prosecution is expected, with the likely outcome of a fine, the quantum of which cannot be ascertained at the present time. Importantly, an offence under Section 7 (1) does not attract a mandatory debarment from public sector tendering under EU/UK law.”
Between April and September 2015 Sweet has spent £900,000 on legal fees supporting the ongoing SFO investigation.
With the Middle East North Africa (MENA) business continuing to struggle, “it has been decided to exit as soon as reasonably practicable” the board said, and options are being reviewed.
The ongoing business has been re-organised into the five business units:
- England & Wales
- Scotland & Ireland
- Mainland Europe
- North America.
Alan Manuel, currently deputy managing director of Europe, has been appointed regional managing director, London.
Ken Wood moves from managing director of Middle East and India to be regional managing director, England & Wales.
Willie Allan, currently senior director, Scotland, has been appointed regional managing director, Scotland & Ireland.
Paul Jamieson, managing director of Sweett Spain, becomes regional managing director, Europe.
In addition, James Grinnell has been appointed as group human resources director.
With the sale of the Asia Pacific (APAC) and India businesses to Currie & Brown in October, Sweett APAC managing director Kim Berry has left the company.
Revenue from continuing operations for the first half of the year (six months ending 30th September 2015) was £30.2m (2015 H1: £27.8m) and loss before tax was £0.5m (2015 H1: £0.1m), with profit before tax from continuing operations adjusted for exceptional administrative expenses and amortisation of acquired intangibles of £0.4m (H1 2015: £0.8m).