Education certificates firm accused of corrupt payments in Africa

An Eastbourne-based firm that prints qualification certificates is facing allegations of corrupt payments made in Africa.

Smith & Ouzman Limited, which specialises in security documents, as well as four British nationals, was charged at Westminster Magistrates’ Court today.

They are accused of having been involved in payments totaling £413,552.12 that were used to influence the award of business contracts to the company.

The firm, two of its directors, an employee and one agent have been charged by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) with offences of corruptly agreeing to make payments.

The individuals are Chris Smith, aged 70, of East Sussex, the former chairman of Smith & Ouzman, his son Nick Smith, 42, of East Sussex, the sales and marketing director of Smith & Ouzman, Tim Forrester, 45, of East Sussex, the international sales manager for Smith & Ouzman, and Abdirahman Omar, 37, of London, an agent for Smith & Ouzman.

The alleged offences are said to have taken place between November 2006 and December 2010 and relate to transactions in Mauritania, Ghana, Somaliland and Kenya, according to an SFO spokesperson.

The accused are expected to appear at Southwark Crown Court on November 6.

The firm’s website says it is, “trusted worldwide to design, print and distribute certificates for universities, schools and colleges, awarding bodies, governments, financial and commercial institutions”.

A spokesperson for Smith & Ouzman said: “We cannot comment on these allegations which are entirely contrary to our principles of business conduct.”

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