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Bribery prosecutions in Scotland

COPFS is committed to publishing details of bribery prosecutions. This page gives information about recent bribery prosecutions that have taken place in Scotland.


COPFS is committed to publishing details of bribery prosecutions. Recent bribery prosecutions in Scotland are detailed below.

Weir Group Plc

Glasgow-based Weir Group Plc was fined £3 million and made subject of a confiscation order for £13.9 million under Proceeds of Crime legislation at the High Court in Edinburgh on the 15 December 2010.

The engineering company had pled guilty to paying ‘kickbacks’ in return for contracts from Saddam Hussein’s government. The court heard that the company paid more than £3m in kickbacks through a Swiss bank account between September 2001 and April 2004, in contravention of UN sanctions against Iraq. The company had admitted facilitating the payment of kickbacks by paying a fee of more than £1.4 m to their agent, an Iraqi national, to the same Swiss bank account. The agent made the payments to the Iraqi government on behalf of Weir. The kickbacks were paid to the Iraqi Government from funds in the UN’s Oil for Food Programme, which should have been used for humanitarian purposes.

Edinburgh City Council and Action Building Contracts (ABC) Ltd

Four men were sentenced to a total of over 13 years and two months imprisonment at Edinburgh Sheriff Court on 18 June 2015 for corruption and bribery at Edinburgh City Council.

The corruption, in contravention of the Public Bodies Corrupt Practices Act 1889, involved the payment of bribes totalling over £42,000 and the provision of hospitality inducements worth over £30,000, between 2007 and 2010.

Two council employees, working within the Property Care Services department were imprisoned for a total 8 years and one month for their role in laundering £45,521 and two directors of Action Building Contracts (ABC) Ltd were imprisoned for a total of five years and one month for defrauding the Council of a total of £68,909.51.

The co-directors of ABC Ltd were also disqualified from being company directors for five years.

The Council officials were bribed with cash payments and hospitality in exchange for allocating building maintenance and repair contracts to ABC Ltd. The fraud element of the case centred on the contractors’ practice of falsely inflating their invoices to the Council in order to cover the costs of the bribes.

Subsequent proceedings under Proceeds of Crime legislation resulted in the directors of ABC Ltd being made subject of confiscation orders totalling over £266,000 on 4 April 2017.

Thomas Gunn

Thomas Gunn Navigation Systems (TGNS) Ltd was an Aberdeen-based technology company operating in the shipping sector. When it was acquired by a larger company it transpired that, between 2003 and 2012, staff at TGNS Ltd had paid bribes totalling £30,000 to executives at a London-based shipping firm, in return for the award of contracts worth £138,000. The new board of directors initiated an investigation and made a self-report to COPFS. Following a full investigation instructed by COPFS, in 2013 the company reached a settlement with the Civil Recovery Unit. The managing director of TGNS Ltd, Thomas Gunn, was prosecuted separately for his involvement. He pled guilty in advance of trial to two charges of conspiracy to make corrupt payments for the purpose of maintaining commercial contracts between TGNS and the shipping firm, contrary to the Prevention of Corruption Act 1906 and the Bribery Act 2010. Thomas Gunn was sentenced to a community payback order.

Desmond Tough

In 2017, an Aberdeen City Council Valuation Officer who was responsible for valuing properties being sold by the Council under the ‘Right to Buy’ scheme was convicted of 8 charges in terms of section 2(2) of the 2010 Act and sentenced to 18 months’ imprisonment. On 8 occasions during 2014 and 2015 he requested payment from prospective buyers, in exchange for reducing the valuation of the property. The sums requested ranged from £75 to £500, and the accused received approximately £2000 in total. The Sheriff commented that “because of the breach of public trust there is no alternative to a custodial sentence”.

Catherine Leahy

A 62 year-old woman was sentenced to six years imprisonment at the High Court in Edinburgh on 19 April 2018 for an offence under section 2 of the Bribery Act 2010 after being found guilty of agreeing to receive a financial advantage, intending that her function as a juror would be improperly performed.

The woman served on a jury in a drug trafficking and money laundering trial which returned a not proven verdict in April 2016 following three days of deliberation.

A police investigation was instructed after information was passed to Crown Office staff regarding an alleged bribe to a juror.Police then used covert audio surveillance to capture recordings of her talking with a family member at her Glasgow home about the allegations against her.

The court heard that the woman was paid nearly £3,000 in four instalments into her bank account between April and June 2016. Prosecutors linked the bank payments to the charge against her.

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