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Balfours admits unlawful conduct in Egypt

Balfour Beatty has admitted 'unlawful conduct' through 'inaccurate accounting' and 'payment irregularities' to the Serious Fraud Office (SFO), for work on the Alexandrina Bibliotheca in Egypt, and paid a settlement payment of £2.25M at the High Court.

The penalty is the first enforced by the SFO since it acquired new powers in April. These powers entitle the SFO to: "recover property obtained by unlawful conduct".

No specific offence needs to be established, only that the property sought is the proceeds of unlawful conduct.

Balfour Beatty brought the matter to the attention of the SFO, accepting that unlawful conduct, in the form of inaccurate accounting, occurred within a subsidiary during the construction of The Bibliotheca Project in Alexandrina, Egypt.

Completed over seven years ago, the project was undertaken by a Balfour Beatty joint venture with an Egyptian company.

The SFO were keen to emphasise that Balfour Beatty had cooperated fully with their investigation, and concluded that there was no financial benefit to any individual employee and most of the relevant individuals have long since left the company.

Balfour Beatty has agreed to introduce compliance systems, and to submit these systems to a form of external monitoring for an agreed period.

Richard Alderman, Director of the SFO commented: "This is a highly significant development in our efforts to reform British corporate behaviour. We now have a range of enforcement tools at our disposal, and a major factor in determining which of those tools is deployed will be the responsibility demonstrated by the company concerned."

A Balfour Beatty statement read: "Balfour Beatty's policy is that all of its business should be conducted ethically and the highest standards of integrity are explicitly required from all of its businesses and employees."

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