U.K. Serious Fraud Office reviewing caterer Compass amid corruption allegations | VailDaily.com
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U.K. Serious Fraud Office reviewing caterer Compass amid corruption allegations

LONDON – Britain’s Serious Fraud Office is reviewing the activities of Compass Group PLC, the world’s largest catering company, amid allegations in the United States of corruption in some of the company’s contracts with the United Nations.The Serious Fraud Office, which is part of Britain’s criminal justice system, said it was taking a preliminary look at Compass to gauge whether a full investigation was warranted.”The Serious Fraud Office has a duty to record and consider reports of possible overseas corruption involving U.K. persons or U.K. corporate entities,” said SFO spokesman David Jones. “This is a standard preliminary process in such situations to consider whether closer inspection in the U.K. is appropriate and, if so, by which regulatory authority,” he added.Compass is already being probed by the U.N. Office of Investigative Oversight Services and U.S. federal investigators.Compass – which supplies meals to about 30,000 U.N. peacekeeping troops in locations including Kosovo, Cyprus and East Timor – issued a brief statement also stressing that there currently is no formal investigation underway, but a “preliminary practice which is normal and standard practice.” A spokeswoman declined to comment further.The caterer earlier this month fired three executives, including Peter Harris, the company’s chief executive for Britain, Ireland, the Middle East and Africa, and Andy Siewert, business development executive for Compass subsidiary Eurest Support Services.Both had been suspended since October 21, when Compass announced it was summoning lawyers to investigate the relationship between Eurest, the U.N., and IHC Services Inc., a former contractor to the U.N. contract-procurement department.The U.N.’s investigation centers on allegations that Eurest “improperly” obtained internal U.N. documents that helped it outbid competitors for a $62 million (51.7 million euros) contract to supply food and water to U.N. peacekeepers in Liberia. The U.N. has meanwhile suspended Eurest as a registered U.N. supplier, barring it from seeking new contracts.Announcing the dismissals earlier this month, Compass noted that an internal investigation into the U.N. contracts had “raised serious concerns” about whether there had been improper conduct and a failure to comply with the company’s statement of business principles.Compass shares fell 1.6 percent to 201 pence ($3.45).


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