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Trio sentenced in Angolan corruption case

October 20 - Three former senior employees of the F.H Bertling group were today sentenced at Southwark Crown Court.

This follows an investigation by the UK's Serious Fraud Office (SFO) into corrupt payments made to an agent of the Angolan state oil company, Sonangol, in relation to F.H Bertling's freight forwarding business in Angola and a contract worth approximately USD20 million.

Joerg Blumberg, Dirk Juergensen and Marc Schweiger were sentenced, fined and disqualified as company directors following their convictions for conspiracy to make corrupt payments earlier this year.

Marc Schweiger, a German national living in Uganda, was the manager responsible for the Africa market when the corrupt activity took place between July 2005 and December 2006.

Joerg Blumberg worked as group cfo while Dirk Juergensen was the managing director of the UK subsidiary F.H. Bertling Ltd.

Sentencing the men, His Honour HHJ Pegden QC said: "[This crime] causes significant environmental impact and deprives the community, especially in developing countries of proper and honest business transactions and undermines international relations. It deprives others of the opportunity for advancement.

"Each [defendant] played a significant role in the fraudulent activity, which required discussion and planning and was pursued for a year in total for the company's financial gain."

Joerg Blumberg, Dirk Juergensen and Marc Schwieger were each given a 20-month sentence, suspended for two years, a GBP20,000 (USD26,357) fine, payable within three months with a default sentence of one year for non-payment and were disqualified from being company directors for five years.

The company and former employees were convicted of conspiracy to make corrupt payments, contrary to section (1) of the Criminal Law Act 1977 and section (1) of the Prevention of Corruption Act 1906, in September this year. See the HLPFI report here.

German nationals Joerg Blumberg, Ralf Petersen (now deceased), Dirk Juergensen and Marc Schweiger pleaded guilty on March 17, 2017.

Giuseppe Morreale, a German national who lives in the UK, and UK national Stephen Emler pleaded guilty to the charges on September 1, 2016. 

F.H. Bertling Limited, which was a UK subsidiary of the German-headquartered Bertling Group, pleaded guilty on August 1, 2017. 

The two individuals above and the company will be sentenced following the conclusion of connected proceedings, for which a trial is scheduled in September 2018. See the HLPFI report on the second case here.

Peter Ferdinand was acquitted by jury at Southwark Crown Court on September 21, 2017.

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