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Two employees sentenced for roles in £6.4 million bribery

  • Graham Deakin and Stephen Banks were sentenced to a total of two years and eight months for bribery in relation to a £6.4 million contract
  • An investigation by the City of London Police’s Fraud Squad found that Banks agreed to pay £39,000 “commission” to Deakin
  • The fraud began to unravel when Banks' employer, Skansen Interiors Limited employed a new Chief Executive

On Monday 23 April 2018, Graham Deakin, 57, of Winckford Close, Chelmsford, Essex and Stephen Banks, 55, of The Bramblings, Woodford, London, were sentenced to a total of two years and eight months for bribery in relation to a £6.4 million contract at Southwark Crown Court.

Banks was sentenced to 12 months in prison and has been disqualified as a director for six years. Deakin was sentenced to 20 months in prison, disqualified as a director for seven years and had £10,697.54 confiscated.

At a hearing on 6 June 2017, Deakin pleaded guilty to the three counts of bribery against him and Banks pleaded not guilty to the three counts of bribery against him. 

In a ground-breaking result, Banks’ employer, Skansen was found guilty on 21 February 2018 at Southwark Crown Court under section 7 of the Bribery Act 2010, the first contested case of its kind. However, the company was given an absolute discharge.

Banks was an employee of Skansen Interiors Limited, a fit out and refurbishment main contractor within the construction industry. Deakin was a Project Director for a refurbishment company. The Chief Executive of Skansen believed that Deakin had accepted bribes from Banks in return for securing a £6.4 million refurbishment contract for Skansen. The case was subsequently reported to the City of London Police’s Fraud Squad for investigation.

The fraud began to unravel when Skansen employed a new Chief Executive. Within one week of taking on his role, he realised that the reported financial performance of the business was significantly lower than previously reported and he subsequently called a directors meeting on 5 February 2014 to address the issue.

At this meeting, Banks made the CEO aware that a sales commission was due to be paid to a third company that had assisted them in securing a contract with Deakin’s employer. The CEO questioned the figures given by Banks as this would have meant that £500,000 commission needed to be paid to the company. Banks claimed he could not recall the exact figures and later confirmed them in an email to the CEO. 

Having looked into the details of this email about the involvement of a third company in securing the contract, it was found that the director of the third company was a relative of Deakin. The CEO then looked into the Skansen company records and found that although the invoices indicated that technical documents had been created for the contracted refurbishment work, he found no evidence that these documents existed.

An investigation by the City of London Police’s Fraud Squad found that, while working for Skansen, Banks agreed to pay £39,000 “commission” to Deakin in return for Deakin’s work in securing three projects for Skansen.  Ultimately, only one payment of £10,000 was paid out to Deakin in March 2013. The remaining £29,000 was never paid due to the scrutiny of the new CEO.

Deakin was arrested at his home address on 23 April 2014 and interviewed on the same day. Banks was voluntarily interviewed on 21 May 2014.

Detective Constable Darren Norton of the City of London Police’s Fraud Squad said: “This has been a ground-breaking case that shows bribery will not be tolerated.

“Banks and Deakin were only focused on their own gain and showed little regard for their companies. Our investigation ensured they were stopped.

“Companies should be fastidious in checking that their procedures to ensure they do not fall foul of the same offences that impacted upon Skansen. We would urge anyone who has concerns about bribery within their company to report it to the police.”
 

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