Swift defendants acquitted in Nigerian corruption trial
The jury was unable to reach a verdict on one count against the third defendant and was discharged. The SFO today indicated in court that it did not intend to seek a retrial on that count and a verdict of not guilty was entered.
The defendants were:
Bharat Sodha (age 51) of Middlesex, the former International Tax Manager
Nidhi Vyas (age 49) of Middlesex, the former Financial Controller
Trevor Bruce (age 46) of Northern Ireland, the former Area Director for Nigeria
Bharat Sodha was acquitted of two counts of conspiracy to make corrupt payments.
Nidhi Vyas was acquitted of one count of conspiracy to make corrupt payments on the direction of the judge at the close of the prosecution case and was acquitted by the jury of another similar count.
Trevor Bruce was acquitted of one count of conspiracy to make corrupt payments and the jury was unable to reach a verdict on the other.
The prosecution case was that these defendants conspired to make corrupt payments to officials of two Nigerian Boards of Internal Revenue, one in Rivers State and the other in Lagos State.
Swift co-operated with the SFO, providing documents and making staff available for interview. It was not charged with any offence.
Commenting on its client Trevor Bruce being acquitted of conspiracy to corrupt, David Byrne, Partner, Byrne and Partners, said, "Following the Court hearing yesterday, Mr Bruce and two other former employees of Swift Technical Energy Solutions Ltd have been acquitted of two counts of making corrupt payments to Nigerian tax officials on behalf of the company.
"Mr Bruce spent nearly two and a half years on bail while the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) decided whether to bring charges. These were finally brought in late 2012 despite repeated representations to the SFO Director that given its approach and the absence of very material evidence Mr Bruce should be released from bail and the case discontinued.
"Notwithstanding these failings, the SFO decided to continue with the case and to present accounting and tax evidence in relation to the facts without an expert.
"After nearly seven years this nightmare is finally over and Mr Bruce is grateful that British Justice has once again been vindicated, leaving him to re-build his life."
The SFO is grateful for assistance provided by City of London Police and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission of Nigeria.