Serious Fraud Office reassessing corruption allegations on Lesotho project

Mott MacDonald has insisted it has had "no contact" with the Serious Fraud Office after it emerged the SFO is looking again at allegations of corruption involving the firm on a multi million-pound water project in Lesotho.

A spokesperson for the SFO said: "A decision about whether to launch an investigation is currently under consideration, but no decision has been made yet."

The SFO said it had looked at the possible involvement of British firms in bribery allegations in 2005. At that time the SFO felt there was insufficient evidence to proceed.

But the SFO spokesperson said it had received further information from the Lesotho authorities earlier this year regarding Mott MacDonald and on the basis of that information was reassessing the case.

The SFO spokesperson said: "Our assessment involves looking at the new evidence, talking to people and liaising with overseas authorities."

A spokesperson for Mott MacDonald said: "We have not been approached by the SFO and have not been contacted by them." The firm declined to comment further.

The Lesotho Highland Water Project was one of the largest engineering projects ever undertaken in southern Africa, reversing the flow of rivers in Lesotho and sending them north, to provide water and electricity to the industries and towns of South Africa.

But a number of international companies were accused of bribing local officials, and the chief executive of the project, Masupha Sole, was gaoled for 15 years for receiving bribes.