Macmillan Settles Civil Action with SFO

22 July 2011 Publication

On July 22, 2011, Macmillan Limited Publishing ("MLP") settled civil corruption charges with the U.K. Serious Fraud Office ("SFO"). The conduct at issue related to contracts for the supply of educational materials in MLP’s Education Division operating in East and West Africa. The materials were supplied by publishers, following the issue of a public tender by the national government of a country. The SFO found those tender processes were vulnerable to the formation of improper relationships, and that it was impossible to be certain the awards of tenders to MLP in the investigated jurisdictions were devoid of corrupt relationships. Accordingly it was plain that MLP might have received revenue that had been derived from unlawful conduct. The SFO was able to determine the appropriate amount to recover from MLP by conducting an accounting examination and taking an aggressive approach to the revenue received in order to capture all potential unlawful conduct. MLP will pay the SFO £11.3 million, the total amount received through the unlawful conduct, and £27,000 to cover the SFO costs of pursuing the order. MLP will also be subject to review by an independent monitor who will report within twelve months to the Director of the SFO and to the World Bank.

The resolution of the case illustrates the different ways in which corruption can come to the attention of enforcement authorities. MLP reported the case to the SFO in March of 2010, after the World Bank issued a report stating an agent had attempted to pay money to persuade the award of a World Bank-funded tender to supply educational materials to Southern Sudan. After reviewing the self-reported information, the SFO required MLP to facilitate an external investigation as part of the SFO’s published protocol for the elimination of overseas corruption. The SFO was satisfied with the investigation and the results presented to both it and the World Bank Group. The SFO stated that MLP fully cooperated with the investigation, and that the products supplied were good quality and reasonably priced, considerations which were reflected in the settlement.