Firm denies knowledge of alleged historic incident involving employee in Morocco
Sweett Group has launched an investigation into allegations reported by the Wall Street Journal on Friday of improper business conduct by a former employee based in the Middle East.
The Wall Street Journal reported that in 2010 a Sweett executive told an architect at US-based practice HLW hoping to work on a hospital project in Morocco that his company would have to pay 3.5% of the value of the contract to an official at the client to win it.
Sweett said in a statement to the stock exchange: “These historical allegations are something the Company knew nothing about.”
The firm added: “In line with its policy to ensure rigorous investigation of allegations, the group has appointed an independent external body to investigate them.
“The initial review of correspondence and project documentation shows no record of any request for, or payment of, facilitation fees of the nature alleged.
“A further announcement will be made as and when appropriate.”
HLW later launched an investigation into its experiences trying to win the contract, with the help of its lawyers Cromwell & Moring LLP. The Wall Street Journal article is based on internal HLW documents about this investigation.
The former Sweett employee – who worked for the firm’s Middle East division Cyril Sweett International Ltd but left Sweett around 18 months ago– allegedly told Cromwell lawyers that the firm had already made a 3.5% payment to the official at the client.
When contacted by the Wall Street Journal, the former Sweett employee denied the firm had made a payment to win the contract and disputed the allegations.
A Sweett spokesman said: “These historical allegations towards an individual who was at Cyril Sweett International are something the Company knew nothing about. In line with our policy to ensure rigorous investigation of allegations, the Company has appointed an independent external body to investigate them.
“The initial review of correspondence and project documentation [on the Casablanca Hospital project] shows no record whatsoever of any request for facilitation fees of the nature alleged.”