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AMEC to pay £5M for 'irregular' Incheon payments

Project management specialists Amec have agreed to pay alomst £5M to the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) for: ‘irregular payments’ received between November 2005 and March 2007 during the construction of the 18.5km Incheon Bridge mega-project in South Korea.

Construction began on South Korea’s Incheon Bridge project in 2005 - when the SFO say that: “Irregular payments” began, and ran from November that year until March 2007.

The Incheon Bridge opened to the public just last week.

Receipts were uncovered in an internal Amec investigation, and then referred to the SFO in March 2008.

The SFO today (Monday) obtained a Civil Recovery Order of almost £4,943,648 plus the costs incurred as a result of the Civil Recovery proceedings against AMEC, to which the company has agreed.

The SFO’s Director has: “Determined that unlawful conduct occurred in connection with the description entered into AMEC’s books and records of the payments in question which amounted to failure to comply with the requirements of section 221 of the Companies Act 1985.

“The SFO acknowledges that upon completion of the internal investigation AMEC acted promptly and responsibly in referring the case and has since co-operated with the SFO’s investigation into the corporate irregularities.

“The SFO is satisfied that, through agreeing to these actions, the current management of AMEC has demonstrated its desire to address the issues that gave rise to the unlawful conduct,” read an SFO statement.

Head of construction law at firm Dundas & Wilson, Lindy Patterson said: “A person - for example a director - found to be in breach of  the section is liable for imprisonment and/or a fine. The maximum prison sentence is 2 years.

“No directors of Amec have been charged with an offence under this section. They have reported the problem and agreed a settlement with the SFO under a Civil Recovery order,” she said.

This is only the second time an agreed settlement will have been used - the first was in connection with Balfour Beatty, who agreed to pay £2.25M over inaccurate accounting during the construction of The Bibliotheca Project in Alexandrina, Egypt.

In a parallel statement, Amec said: “No improper overall commercial advantage accrued to AMEC in connection with the receipts and no adjustment is required to any AMEC financial statements.

“These receipts were associated with AMEC’s last remaining active PPP project. The division to which it belonged was divested in mid-2007. The project is now complete, ahead of the original schedule,” it read.

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