Cash For Cash Notes: Former Business Manager at Securency International PTY Ltd. Convicted of Corruption

Cash For Cash Notes: Former Business Manager at Securency International PTY Ltd. Convicted of Corruption

Against the backdrop of the UK’s Anti-Corruption Summit in mid -May 2016, a jury at the Southwark Crown Court retired to consider six counts of corruption brought against Peter Chapman, the former business manager for Africa for Securency International PTY Ltd., after a six-week long trial. The allegations brought by the UK Serious Fraud Office against Chapman were that he bribed a foreign official for the purpose of securing orders for the supply of polymer substrate by his company, Securency to the Nigerian Security Printing and Minting PLC. Polymer substrate is used in the printing of bank notes and Securency was said to be monopoly supplier of this substrate in Nigeria. Peter Chapman had spent 162 days in custody in Brazil before being extradited to the UK.

 

Securency was a joint venture, set up in 1996 between the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) and Innovia Films, a British international manufacturer and supplier of speciality packaging.[1] In late 2010, both organizations, who each had a 50% stake in Securency, announced their intention to sell the business following allegations that staff had bribed foreign officials to secure contracts. But a lack of suitable offers led Innovia Films to change its mind on the sale, and it paid AUD $65m (£43.4m) for RBA’s shares.[2] Innovia Films, based in Cumbria had a net worth of £158.4 million in 2014.[3] It produces high-tech film products for industrial applications and banknotes, and in 2014 it won a contract to provide polymer for the Bank of England’s new £5 and £10 banknotes.[4]

 

The Serious Fraud Office and the Australian Federal Police have been investigating the activities of Securency employees and its bribery since May 2009  in a burgeoning bribery investigation involving allegations, arrests and raids across three continents.[5] Business executives in Securency were previously alleged to have conspired to win lucrative contracts to print plastic notes in several south-east Asian countries by paying bribes to high-ranking politicians and officials between 1999 and 2005 including Vietnam, Malaysia and India.
The trial was an important one particularly because of the astonishing secrecy surrounding bribery allegations involving the company. In July 2014, an extraordinary gagging order was issued by an Australian court to block the reporting of the bribery  allegations surrounding Securency  and  several international political leaders.[6] The judge who issued the ruling, Justice Elizabeth Hollingworth, said the order was necessary “to prevent damage to Australia’s international relations”.[7] The gagging order prohibited reporting about any person involved in the case who “received or attempted to receive a bribe or improper payment” [8] The order was a “super injunction” – even publishing its existence was itself suppressed, however it was published by Wikileaks in what Justice Hollingworth, called a “a clear and deliberate breach of law”.[9] The last known blanket suppression order of this nature had been granted in 1995 and concerned the joint U.S.-Australian intelligence spying operation against the Chinese Embassy in Canberra .[10]

 

The Charges

 

The jury convicted the former Securency official, Peter Chapman on four counts of corruption for giving the foreign official bribes worth £103,000. The corruption occurred between January- March 2009. He was acquitted on two counts of alleged bribery to the same official on earlier occasions. This is good news for the UK Serious Fraud Office which has successfully prosecuted a key individual in a global bribery case. Last year, three employees of Swift Technical Solutions Ltd were found not guilty at Southwark Crown Court of corruption offences in relation to the tax affairs of a Nigerian subsidiary.[11]

 

Peter Chapman was sentenced to a 30-month custodial sentence, half of which has already been served in Brazil and then Wandsworth Prison in the UK. For the remaining half he was immediately released on license, which generally means he is released under conditions such as he must be of good behavior, not commit any offence, be in touch with the supervising officer in accordance with the instructions of this officer and reside permanently at an address approved by the supervising officer.

 

He will return to a confiscation hearing on 19th January 2017.[12] In sentencing Peter Chapman, Judge Michael Grieve said a significant factor in mitigating Chapman’s sentence was the role of Securency management. Chapman was seen to have been under considerable pressure by the management to move towards “polymeriz[ing] the world” and accordingly, the UK Judge said Chapman acted with his manager’s “connivance” or at least “encouragement”.  The management based in Australia named during the trial included Hugh Brown, then Director of Sales, Miles Curtis, then Managing Director of Securency and David John Ellery, then Director of Financial Operations who was also the main prosecution witness against Peter Chapman.

 

More information on Securency and the trial monitoring notes can be accessed here

[1] Innovia Security official website at https://www.innoviasecurity.com/history/ accessed on 26th May 2016.

[2] 14th January 2013, Print Week, “Innovia to buy out Securency partner” at http://www.printweek.com/print-week/news/1136015/innovia-securency-partner

[3] See https://companycheck.co.uk/company/00271998/INNOVIA-FILMS-LIMITED/group-structure accessed on 23rd May 2016

[4] Bank of England official website at http://www.bankofengland.co.uk/publications/Pages/news/2014/050.aspx

[5] January 10, 2011, Sydney Morning Herald, Business Day, “RBA firm rehired suspect agents via tax haven company” at  http://www.smh.com.au/business/rba-firm-rehired-suspect-agents-via-tax-haven-company-20110109-19juo.html accessed on 4/01/2016; July 30th, 2014, Guardian at “ Australian court’s gagging order condemned as ‘abuse of legal process’”

[6]July 30th, 2014, Guardian “Australian court’s gagging order condemned as ‘abuse of legal process’” at http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jul/30/australian-court-gagging-order-abuse-legal-process

[7] July 30th, 2014, Guardian “Australian court’s gagging order condemned as ‘abuse of legal process’” at http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jul/30/australian-court-gagging-order-abuse-legal-process

[8] July 30th 2014, FCPA, “Australia clamps embarrassing gag order on global bank note bribery case” at http://www.fcpablog.com/blog/2014/7/30/australia-clamps-embarrassing-gag-order-on-global-banknote-b.html#sthash.63KWvTiL.dpuf

[9] 15th July 2014, blog Crikey, “Finally court lifts absurd Securency injunction” at http://www.crikey.com.au/2015/07/15/finally-court-lifts-absurd-securency-injunction accessed on http://www.crikey.com.au/2015/07/15/finally-court-lifts-absurd-securency-injunction/

[10] 29th July 2014, WikiLeaks release at  https://wikileaks.org/aus-suppression-order/press.html

[11] SFO official public website at https://www.sfo.gov.uk/2015/06/02/defendants-acquitted-in-nigerian-corruption/

[12] January 10, 2011, Sydney Morning Herald, Business Day, “RBA firm rehired suspect agents via tax haven company” at  http://www.smh.com.au/business/rba-firm-rehired-suspect-agents-via-tax-haven-company-20110109-19juo.html accessed on 4/01/2016; July 30th, 2014, Guardian, “Australian court’s gagging order condemned as ‘abuse of legal process’” at http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jul/30/australian-court-gagging-order-abuse-legal-process