Serious Fraud Office
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SFO secures conviction of former MoD official for taking £70k in secret kickbacks

Recently (06 March 2024) at Southwark Crown Court, the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) secured the conviction of former Ministry of Defence (MoD) official Jeffrey Cook for misconduct in public office, by taking secret payments in exchange for commissioning work from offshore consultants for the MoD.

SFO investigators uncovered that Cook concealed payments and gifts totalling more than £70,000 while he was employed at the MoD and seconded to a defence contractor, called Paradigm, that was owned by Airbus.

Between 2004 and 2008, Cook used his position as a civil servant to commission five reports for the MoD on its “SANGCOM” project to provide military communications equipment and services to the Saudi Arabian National Guard. The reports examined topics including “SANGCOM project activities”, “strategic considerations” and “business strategy”.

ME Consultants Ltd, registered in the Cayman Islands and where Cook held personal contacts, were paid £700,000 for this work, with at least ten percent of this fee going back to Cook directly.  Cook received over £44,000 in cash and two cars worth over £30,000, arranged via a Chelmsford car dealership belonging to Peter Austin, the principal shareholder at the consultancy.  

Following his secondment, Cook left the MoD to join the UK defence firm GPT Special Project Management Ltd – which was bought by Paradigm in 2007 – as its Managing Director. The SFO successfully prosecuted GPT as part of this case in 2021, when the company pleaded guilty to corruption and paid a penalty totalling almost £30 million for its actions.

Cook will be sentenced at Southwark Crown Court on 12 April.

Director of the Serious Fraud Office, Nick Ephgrave QPM, recently said:  

“This was an exceptionally complex investigation and prosecution which no other public body could have delivered.”

“Jeffrey Cook betrayed public confidence and, thanks to our tenacity on this case, has rightly been held accountable today.”

 

Channel website: https://www.sfo.gov.uk/

Original article link: https://www.sfo.gov.uk/2024/03/06/sfo-secures-conviction-of-former-mod-official-for-taking-70k-in-secret-kickbacks/

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