Friday, November 18, 2011

British Court Clerk Gets Six Years in Prison for Accepting Bribes

Under the new Bribery Act, which went into effect in July, the first person to be convicted under the Act was imprisoned earlier today (November 18).

Munir Patel, 22, a court clerk who worked at Redbridge Magistrates' Court in east London, had pleaded guilty to accepting 500 pounds (US$787.20) to "get rid" of speeding charges by keeping the details off an electronic court database. As a result, he received three years in prison for bribery offenses and six years for misconduct in a public office, with the sentences to run concurrently.

COMMENT: The Bribery Act makes failure to prevent bribery, whether committed by staff, subsidiaries or "associated persons" anywhere in the world, a criminal offense. It also clamps down on so-called "facilitation payments," often used to "grease the hands" of business by speeding up services such as visa applications, and "disproportionate" hospitality.

Patel potentially could have gone away for much more time, considering that he helped at least 53 individuals evade prosecution for driving offenses, and that he had advised people on how to avoid being summoned to court.

Worse, Patel's salary was 17,978 pounds, but the court heard testimony that 53,814 pounds in cash was deposited in his bank account while another 42,383 pounds was transferred into the same account, both without explanation.

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