Serious Fraud Office hails convictions in Northern Ireland investigation into CCTV contracts

A senior Ministry of Defence quantity surveyor has pleaded guilty to four counts of corruption after a long-runnng inquiry into civil-service bribery in Northern Ireland.

John Symington, aged 56, of County Antrim, admitted receiving some £18,000 in bribes in a case relating to the tendering of CCTV contracts worth £16.2m.

The inquiry codenamed “Operation Ramaria” was prompted by concerns that MoD employees were favouring certain electrical and security systems companies and ensuring they were consistently being awarded lucrative provision and maintenance contracts.

Former MoD deputy senior commercial officer William Ronald Marks, aged 55, admitted 11 counts of corruption in relation to £66,500 in bribes, and three further counts of money laundering.

VIS Security Solutions owner James Daniel McGeown, 73, admitted 16 corruption-related charges involving payments to MoD staff at Belfast Crown Court earlier this month.

All three are due to be sentenced on 9 March.

Ministry of Defence Police and the Serious Fraud Office spent eight years investigating the corruption ring, and amassed 7.5 tonnes of evidence as part of the inquiry.
SFO Director Richard Alderman said the investigation had been particularly complex.

“I welcome the verdict which sends a clear message to people who divert public money to their own ends that they must face the consequences,” he said.

A fourth defendant, 53-year-old Carol Kealey - sister of McGeown - last week pleaded guilty to a less-serious obstruction charge in relation to the case and recieved a conditional discharge.